While we’re still seeing shows, festivals and other events canceled this summer because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, plenty of summer activities are still going strong – maybe just in a different form – thanks to the creativity and innovation of their organizers.
Cue Animas City Night Bazaar.
Now in its third season, ACNB will kick off for the summer season Wednesday with an Italian flair. In order to keep people safely distanced to avoid spreading COVID-19, the monthly north Main Avenue gathering will keep people moving around the area in a “passeggiata,” an evening stroll, where participants will encounter wandering musicians, deals from local restaurants, prizes and even a sidewalk circus. The events will be held the last Wednesday of every month.
Joy Martin, vice president of the ACNB board, said the idea of The Great Animas City Passeggiata came to her after she took a virtual wine workshop hosted by Primi Pasta & Wine Bar’s co-owner and sommelier Tracy Regan. In one of Regan’s sessions, she talked about passeggiata, and Martin said she knew it could work in Durango.
“She was telling us about this tradition in Italy that takes place every Sunday evening from 5 to 8 before the restaurants open, people would get dressed up and essentially just walk around outside and it’s kind of like a who’s who of people-watching,” Martin said. “And when she was talking about this, I was like, ‘This is the perfect socially-distant activity that we could bring to life.’ And it turns out there have been many iterations in Durango already, but the Night Bazaar has taken it and just kind of totally twisted it into something that we feel comfortable with and no longer nervous.”
Martin said ACNB volunteers have been brainstorming how this summer was going to look since the coronavirus pandemic all that came with it hit in March.
“Pretty early on, we were aware that the rug was going to get pulled out from under what we had planned, just like everybody else,” she said. “We’re pretty determined. We really believe in our neighborhood, and we really believe in the mission of the Animas City Night Bazaar, which is to activate underutilized spaces and to build community and to support our local artisans. We knew there had to be a way.”
For The Great Animas City Passeggiata, people are encouraged to put on their finest (or silliest) attire and join neighbors for a stroll around the streets of north Main Avenue. Musicians will be on the move to help prevent crowds and participating local business will offer specials. A local mapmaker has put together a map of the area that can be downloaded ahead of the passeggiata. There will also be a family-friendly scavenger hunt to accompany the map of the passeggiata boundaries, which will be marked by painted rocks stacked in cairns around Animas City. At these locations, seekers will find gift cards and prizes crafted by local artisans, purchased by the ACNB to support the artisan economy.
And the community has stepped up to help with the events, as well. Community supporters include: Grassburger, Zia Taqueria, Ska Brewing, Homeslice Pizza, the Business Improvement District, Bird’s, Alpenglow Properties, Pediatric Partners of the Southwest, the city of Durango and Durango Friends of the Arts.
“We’re all going to get through this, it’s just going to take a little more creativity than maybe we’re used to, and that’s a good thing,” Martin said.