Lawrence Arts Center planning 40th anniversary street party; permit awaits approval from city

The Lawrence Arts Center is inviting guests to “party like it’s 1975” during the center’s 40th anniversary celebration next month.

The event, slated for 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sept. 25, will offer plenty of throwback activities, from retro crafts (think macramé and God’s eyes) to a 1970s-era sitcom marathon to instruction in Disco 101 courtesy of the Arts Center’s School of Dance. Local restaurants and food vendors will also be on hand with snacks and refreshments.

Held in conjunction with Lawrence Arts Center’s annual September Final Friday street party, the celebration will tentatively close traffic on the 900 block of New Hampshire Street.

To accommodate musical performances by local bands Truckstop Honeymoon and Chuck Mead and the Grassy Knoll Boys, a large stage will be set up directly in front of the Arts Center.

Access to the parking garage across the street would be maintained via the southernmost entrance on New Hampshire Street as well as the Ninth Street entrance.

Arts Center officials are still awaiting approval for their permit request, which will be discussed at Tuesday’s City Commission meeting at 5:45 p.m. at City Hall.

Commissioners will also consider adopting an ordinance that would allow the sale, possession and consumption of alcohol within the closed-off area during the event.

Ruth DeWitt, the Arts Center’s marketing director, doesn’t anticipate any problems with the request.

The Lawrence Arts Center, she points out, goes through a similar process every year for the September Final Friday and May Final Friday street parties, which this year also hosted the Art Tougeau parade.

“Everything will be regulated and controlled,” says DeWitt, who notes the celebration shouldn’t approach the same level of June’s Free State Festival George Clinton concert, which attracted around 8,000 people outside the Arts Center.

Because a school or church (in this case, The Salvation Army Church at 946 New Hampshire St.) lies within 400 feet of the event, The Salvation Army has been notified that the issue will be discussed at Tuesday’s city commission meeting.

Additionally, coordination with Parks and Recreation, Public Works, Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical, Lawrence Transit, the Chamber, and Downtown Lawrence Inc. has been completed with no issues identified.