Game room joins town togetherness initiative

Students looking for something fun and new to do on Friday nights will welcome the Allegheny game room’s recent collaboration with Make it Meadville, an organization looking to promote the revitalization of downtown Meadville, in the latter’s First Fridays campaign.

First Fridays, put into action over the summer, is a program which promotes downtown economic stimulus and community togetherness by encouraging local businesses to keep their doors open a little longer on the first Friday of every month. This semester, those Fridays include tomorrow, March 5 and April 2.

Ryan Cole, ’10, a Davies Community Service Leader for the Redevelopment Authority for the City of Meadville, works with Make it Meadville on various projects downtown and explained the initiative’s motivation to keep businesses open later.

“A lot of businesses close at five but we thought it would be better to keep things open later so that people who work until five could go back home and bring their families down for a little bit,” Cole said.

As a result, through First Fridays, many downtown restaurants and shops will remain open until 8 p.m. on the first Friday of every month. A list of participating businesses can be found online at makeitmeadville.com.

And now, due to the Allegheny game room’s interest in the program, students will be able to play their favorite games a bit later on First Fridays, as the game room will extend its closing time from midnight to 2 a.m.

Student game room manager George Swinston, ’10, explained how the campus arcade and movie rental center joined up with the First Friday program.

“Tricha Gregor, the manager of Student Involvement, lives around here and knew about the First Fridays initiative in Meadville,” Swinston said. “She presented the idea to me and I thought it was a great idea because in the past we’ve had a few people request that the game room stay open later on Friday or Saturday nights. I was reluctant at first, but I thought that if we could make it a big event as part of First Fridays, more people would come to the game room as well as go downtown more.”

To encourage students to take part in both the off-campus and on-campus parts of First Fridays, Swinston and Gregor worked with both Cole and Make it Meadville Promotions Committee Chair Kay Coches to intertwine the First Friday activities. The game room will host three drawings each First Fridays, the most rewarding of which offers students who bring a receipt from a First Friday-participating establishment downtown the opportunity to enter into a drawing for a $25 gift card for a local shop or restaurant. Receipts must be from purchases that day to qualify students for entry in the drawing. Another raffle will collect entries each hour on First Fridays from noon to 2 a.m. and award a $5 gift card to a student from each hourly collection, to be announced at the end of the night.

“We chose places that if, you know, you spent $5 you could get a meal,” Swinston explained. “Places where the gift card would actually go a long way for $5.”

The third drawing allows anyone who won a game in the game room to enter, and the student whose name is drawn will be the lucky recipient of a snack basket.

If the drawings aren’t incentive enough to participate in First Fridays, the goodies present in the game room those nights just may entice you. The game room will be providing refreshments from two or three local restaurants each night, with tomorrow’s event offering up savory snacks from Creative Crust and The Whole Darn Thing sub shop as well as chips and salsa from Compadre’s.

Cole helped the organization envision First Fridays and views it as a valuable way to strengthen the Meadville economy as well as the community and its relationship with Allegheny students.

“I’ve been really trying to get a greater connection between the college and downtown,” Cole said. “Part of it is to get people shopping downtown, seeing what there is to offer, and not going to other businesses. But I really think that getting involved with the community is a whole extra experience outside of academics. It allows you to get to know things about the city that you wouldn’t get to know if you just stayed up on campus all the time.”

The Make it Meadville group, which is funded through generous local fundraising matches by the City of Meadville, the Meadville Medical Center and Allegheny College after state funding failed to come through due to Pennsylvania budget holdups, offers other opportunities for students and Meadville community members to interact.

Cole encourages any students interested in getting involved in Make it Meadville or other downtown programs to contact him at [email protected] or visit makeitmeadville.com.