ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — A popular event in downtown St. Petersburg is in jeopardy as organizers struggle to find funding.
First Friday takes over Central Avenue on the first Friday of the month. It was cancelled in November and will be cancelled again this month.
“A lot of the local businesses absorb that patronage down here,” said Kristen Lee, an event coordinator with Nightlife Productions, LLC.
However, Lee said only some of businesses are stepping up to sponsor the event.
“We’ve been pulling it out of our own personal pockets to make sure it runs, and we just can’t keep that going,” said Lee.
Lee said a lack of funding has forced them to cancel first Friday in November and December, and likely in January too.
“It cost $12,000 for the event just to run on a monthly basis. We pay the band, we pay for police, we pay for the permitting fees,” Lee continued.
“We’ve been doing it down here for 22 years,” said Pete Boland who owns Mary Margaret’s Olde Irish Tavern, which has been impacted by the cancellation.
“I see a 10 to 20% bump every First Friday from a regular Friday,” Boland added.
Boland said he has sponsored First Friday, and wants more businesses to do the same.
“I think it’s a good time to reboot, and to make some changes,” Boland said.
Without major changes, organizers worry the event could be gone for good.
“Someone else may try and pick it up and make it work but it will have the same issues,” said Lee.
Organizers said the goal is to get enough support to have First Friday return by February.
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