Plan in the works for downtown homecoming bash

It just seems like a good time to have a party.

The Lawrence Chamber of Commerce is seeking to team with the Kansas University Alumni Association, the city and downtown businesses to close a portion of Eighth Street on the Friday before KU’s homecoming football game to have a bash to celebrate one of Lawrence’s busier weekends.

“We’re going to send people away with a good experience,” said Lavern Squier, president and CEO of the chamber. “We want people to remember Lawrence as a place where there was a lot going on.”

The event, dubbed Get Downtown, is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Oct. 6 in the one-block area of Eighth Street between New Hampshire and Massachusetts streets. The following day KU will play Texas A&M and have its official homecoming festivities.

The Friday event, which will be free to enter, will feature two bands and food and alcohol vendors. Downtown businesses in the area already have voiced their support for the party.

“It is a great opportunity to show people what a wonderful downtown we have,” said Rick Marquez, executive director of Downtown Lawrence Inc.

The chamber is asking the City Commission, at its Tuesday evening meeting, for a $5,000 donation for the event in addition to the necessary permits to close the one-block section of Eighth Street.

Mayor Mike Amyx said he supports the request. He said downtown used to frequently play host to pep rallies before KU football games.

“Anytime you are drawing a crowd down here, it is a good deal,” Amyx said. “And this allows us to do it in a way that doesn’t block Massachusetts Street.”

The city won’t be expected to pay for the entire event, Squier said. He said the event likely would cost more than $20,000 to produce, with the majority of the money coming from the chamber and private sponsors.

The Alumni Association became a partner in the event by agreeing to move a scheduled performance of the Michael Beers Band from a campus site to downtown. The chamber plans to hire one more band that will begin playing at 8 p.m. The event is expected to end at 11 p.m.