Mt Pleasant News
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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 18, 2018

‘Diggin’ Up The Bricks’

Main St. Mt. Pleasant encourages downtown shopping with construction party
Apr 13, 2018
Photo by: Grace King Cub Scouts lead games in Central Park Thursday during the “Diggin’ Up The Bricks” party organized by Main Street Mt. Pleasant.

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News

 

Scotlyn Roen, Josslyn Roen and Kassie Smithburg walked in step with each other down Jefferson St., dodging construction cones and stepping past newly-laid concrete. The three girls were on the hunt for their next clue during the Diggin’ Up the Bricks Scavenger hunt Thursday, April 13.

As construction along Jefferson St. disrupts the flow of traffic downtown, Main Street Mt. Pleasant organized a party in the square to get residents into area businesses and familiar with navigating the construction crews hard at work to improve city streets.

Starting in Central Park, two bouncy houses on either end beckoned residents to join in the fun. Area Cub Scouts directed games in the square while Main Street Director Lisa Oetken passed out the first scavenger hunt clues, spurring people on to the challenge.

The first clue, “the answer is cut and dry,” lead people to Shear Advantage where they were greeted by a second clue and a cotton candy machine.

As they skipped down the block with their mother, Josslyn said they found the clues very helpful and come downtown all the time to shop for “clothes, food,” the three girls chimed together.

“We’re just trying to find the next clue, but we know where it’s at now,” Josslyn said as she confidently led Scotlyn and Smithburg down the street toward The Vintage Raven.

At The Vintage Raven, Jenn Riepe greeted her customers with the next clue, which would lead scavenger hunters to Hy-Vee Drug.

On a warm, sunny day, “We were waiting on this kind of day for this kind of event,” said Vintage Raven employee May Swarm.

Outside Hy-Vee Drug, employee Kelly Upton stood in front of a grill warming hot dogs and giving out yet another clue to the scavenger hunt. Upton said that since construction started Monday, business at Hy-Vee has been deeply impacted.

Upton was hopeful, however, that the scavenger hunt would help people feel more confident in navigating the construction outside Hy-Vee’s doors.

“It’s still early, but there have been quite a few people coming to get the free hot dogs who don’t know what’s going on,” Upton said. “They just see us cooking.”

Other businesses participating in the scavenger hunt were Brown Bear Antiques, Simply Thrive Weight Loss and Big Dog Tattoos.

As Jim Miller of Brown Bear Antiques greeted customers, he joked that the prize for completing the scavenger hunt should be that each person gets to take home a brick the construction crews were digging up. “Just let them carry them away,” Miller said.

Rather than hampering business so far, Miller said that he noticed construction has actually led more people to drive by the store. They’re curious about the construction process, he said. He does expect that once the crews finish the sidewalks and begin tearing up the streets, he’ll have a different story to tell.

However, he has a plan, with signs made up already directing people to his back entrance.

“The only thing is there’s seven more blocks down here,” Miller said. “When the other merchants see how nice it looks, they’ll ask when their (street) will get done.”

Marsha Laux of Simply Thrive Weight Loss said that opening her doors for the scavenger hunt is a fun way to participate in community activities. “We’re really happy with improvements the city is making,” Laux said. “When it’s done, it will be so nice.”

A last-minute addition to the scavenger hunt route, Rebecca Eldredge, of Big Dog Tattoos, said that when the city did construction a few years ago, it slowed down walk-in clients. She hopes that by opening up their doors last night, residents will feel comfortable walking through the busy streets to their doors.

With Jefferson St. construction only a week old, Eldredge said it’s hard to tell so far if their business has been impacted this spring.

Back in the square, Cub Scouts lead other children in small games like the fishing pond.

Cub Scout Caden Mullin had been looking forward to volunteering for Main Street Mt. Pleasant all week and giving out Boys Life Magazine to fishing pond participants as prizes. “It’s a time to be with the community,” Mullin said.

Pack Committee Chair Tina Mullin said that the Cubs chose this service project as a way for students to meet the community and gain leadership skills through organizing the games. They also saw it as a good opportunity to bring awareness to the Scouts in Mt. Pleasant and gather interest for fall Scout sign-ups.

As people continued to arrive to check out the Diggin’ Up the Bricks party, Oetkin was happy with the turnout, saying she noticed a lot of people drop by who were new to downtown Mt. Pleasant.

“I’ve had people asking where certain businesses are,” Oetkin said. “The scavenger hunt has been good to get people in and out of stores before it gets really congested downtown.”

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