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Cheyenne is sunny much of the year, but walking downtown these days, everything seems a little bit brighter.

Maybe it’s the fact that shorts and flip-flops are finally acceptable, or that we can finally enter any business we’d like to, but regardless, there’s a jubilant feeling of sweet, sweet freedom in the air.

That’s why Small Businesses, the Heart of Cheyenne and the Cheyenne Downtown Development Authority have teamed up to kick off the warmer months with Downtown Cheyenne Summer on the Streets on Saturday, June 20.

The event, which will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., will feature sidewalk sales, live entertainment, giveaways and more to support small businesses hit hard by the pandemic. As the state continues to open up, organizer Corey Loughry said it’s important to continue the work she started in mid-April with Alf Grzegorczyk from Thankful Thursdays.

“Our original goal was just to connect business owners to Cheyenne and remind them, like with Dad’s Donuts, that with every business there is a real person behind it,” she said over the phone. “Two-hundred businesses said (via social media) ‘Yes, we could sure benefit from some exposure,’ and we put all the businesses in a hat, and every week we visit one to spotlight or give $1,000 to … then we thought, ‘What if we could get all the downtown businesses in one day and spotlight each of them and connect with them?’”

Thus, Summer on the Street was born, a day that will bring 40-plus businesses and (hopefully, still being finalized) 24 bands together for a celebration that will close off 17th Street to pedestrians only. The DDA hopped on board as part of a Wyoming Main Street campaign promoting safe shopping during the pandemic.

“We are, in conjunction with this, launching a ‘shop smart’ campaign from Wyoming Main Street to promote good shopping practices with social distancing in this new normal,” said DDA Director of Marketing and Events Haylee Chenchar. “We will have branded swag with that logo, and we have about 40-plus businesses participating … when you go in and spend $25 in a particular store, you can draw from the water bottles, and they contain a prize – could be anything from a free coffee at Paramount to $100 in cash.”

That’s one of the ways Chenchar and Loughry hope to entice residents to head downtown for the event, in addition to several promotions and extended hours offered everywhere from Freedom’s Edge Brewing Co. to Satin & Spice (the latter of which is hosting a parking lot party with live music by Mr. Byrd and the Perfect Strangers, food provided by Silva’s Traveling Grill and beer provided by Alf’s Pub).

The heart of the event will take place in what Loughry called an “imaginary circle” from 15th to 18th streets and Pioneer to Warren avenues. The Cheyenne Police Department donated barricades to block off the east-west portion of 17th Street in the middle of that circle, and within it, there will be bands spread out between several corners entertaining passersby.

“What we hope to have happen is six (bands) per hour and they’ll be spread out in that imaginary circle,” Loughry said. “They’ll play for an hour, and then they’ll be replaced, so from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., people have the opportunity to see 24 entertainers.”

Most of the acts are from Cheyenne, but there are also a few regional acts on the lineup, such as a country-western singer from Lingle, all of which are donating their time to perform free of charge.

In fact, the entire event has been organized on a donation and volunteer basis, which Loughry is particularly thankful for.

“Texas Roadhouse (for example) donated $1,200 worth of gift certificates, even though they have direct competition with some restaurants downtown, but they understand how important downtown is and wanted to support that,” she said. “Just how unselfish businesses and community members are, coming together for a greater good, has been inspiring.”

Chenchar said the DDA looks forward to spreading awareness about healthy shopping habits in the era of COVID-19 while also supporting so many businesses in need at this versatile event.

“I’m just so excited for the opportunity for our local businesses to collectively have a moment in the spotlight,” Chenchar said. “It’s just going to be the best day ever.”

Niki Kottmann is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s features editor. She can be reached at nkottmann@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3135. Follow her on Twitter at @niki_mariee.

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