As the year quickly comes to a close, it is encouraging to see the strides we have made for Downtown Kalamazoo. In 2018, the Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership was in a period of uncertainty and restructuring, working to secure a stable and resilient means for funding Downtown activities. Now, having established a new channel for investing in Downtown activities through the Downtown Economic Growth Authority (DEGA), the future is bright as we start a new chapter for the organization and Downtown.
This year has brought about the launch of new and exciting events Downtown (SkeleTour, Beats on Bates, Workout Wednesdays) to more than double our calendar of events and drive foot traffic to Kalamazoo’s urban center. We’ve ramped up our communications efforts and engaged with stakeholders and the public more frequently and through new channels (including this newsletter!), more than doubling our social media content to create 2.2 million impressions and inspire 70,000 engagements with the public. And we’re engaging with the community to envision possibilities for welcoming, activated public spaces in the future at the Arcadia Creek Festival Place and along key Downtown alleyways.
We’ve made significant efforts toward diversity and inclusion in both our leadership and programming, adding more than 80 new voices to our Board and Citizen Coalitions to strengthen the community input that informs our initiatives, programs and services. We initiated community partnerships with organizations representing different populations to help inform our marketing and programming, to include diverse artists and musicians in our events, and to include diverse entrepreneurs in our holiday pop-ups. We ensured our holiday decorations represented multiple religions and our holiday elves celebrated different genders and races. And this year, for the first time at Santa’s Workshop Downtown, our organization welcomed a Black Santa to ensure Santa is reflective of our diverse Kalamazoo community.
It is not without the hard work, and extra hours, of our team at the Partnership that make all these exciting changes possible. But we also know we are not alone on this journey. Rather, we are accompanied by countless organizations and individuals who work with us – from our sponsors to our event volunteers – and a leadership network that consistently offers their time and thoughtful input to make an impact on the work we do. It is the community that makes this work so rewarding.
With more than $200 million of public and private investment going into Downtown, and major public improvements to our Downtown street network on the horizon, we know that as we look to 2020, our work continues to set the stage for further investment and vibrancy Downtown.
Santa’s Workshop | November 30 – December 24
Santa Claus returns to downtown Kalamazoo once again this year for Santa’s Workshop at the Epic Center (359 S. Kalamazoo Mall).
Returning this year are special musical performances, cookie decorating, letters to Santa and holiday coloring.
New this year, in the spirit of ensuring Santa is reflective of the diverse Kalamazoo community, visits with Black Santa will be happening every Sunday in December from 12-4 p.m.
Join Santa at his Kalamazoo workshop every Thursday – Sunday until December 24. For a complete listing of dates and hours, click here.
Holly Jolly Trolley | November 30 – December 31
Enjoy FREE rides throughout downtown Kalamazoo on and old fashion trolley, beautifully decorated for the holiday season.
Free parking Downtown Kalamazoo in the Epic Center Parking Ramp (136 South St), every Thursday in December! Experience the holidays Downtown Kalamazoo!
Downtown Kalamazoo Chili Cook-Off | Jan. 25, 2020
Stay warm at Downtown Kalamazoo’s Annual Chili Cook-Off on January 25. This free, family-friendly event, presented by the Downtown Kalamazoo Retail and Restaurant Association, is a great way to tour downtown Kalamazoo while enjoying some tasty chili.
Returning this year by popular demand – commemorative tasting spoons! Pick yours up for only $5 at Cook-Off Headquarters, Consumers Credit Union on the Mall.