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DKA welcomes walkers, festivals

KINGSTON — As the Downtown Kingston Association struggles to carve a niche for itself within the North End community, its members continue to brainstorm ideas to entice visitors to explore the town and improve economic development. One of those ideas involves drawing residents together during community festivals to celebrate living in Kingston.

Another concept is just a stroll away.

During a Tuesday afternoon meeting, DKA members met with Kingston Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Nancy Tietje who suggested an event that would encourage residents to discover Kingston at a new level and promote health at the same time.

“I had an idea coincidentally not long before I was offered this new job based on my experience walking around Kingston,” she said. “I envisioned it simply as ‘Walk Kingston,’ and the idea I had was one evening, the idea would be for Kingston to gain more publicity. All you people are whizzing right through downtown on your way to work. We would take an evening and walk downtown Kingston. We have such a walkable community, and Kingston is on the verge of wonderful things.”

Tietje said she is hoping to hold the event on the longest day of the year, usually around June 21, to provide optimal light for the evening amble. She also said she was hoping to encourage businesses to stay open later so residents can explore their depths and discover more about their community. Passports could be handed out to children and adults to collect stamps from each store for prizes, and the potential for a special Kingston Farmers Market was discussed as well. Tietje said she was seeking ideas from different community groups to help solidify plans for the walking event, and was hoping the DKA would lend its support.

“It might be nice to tie it to the end of school,” said DKA member Pete DeBoer. He and DKA member Karen Ross said it would also be a good opportunity to link the event with Kingston’s large Fourth of July celebration.

“I was riding with people to work one morning a while ago who had never been downtown before,” Ross added. “It was amazing they had never been down there.”

DeBoer said in addition to the shops staying open later and creating passports for prizes, it might be nice to showcase the future development of Kingston. His idea was to post designs and plans for different properties — such as the Kingston Village Green on West Kingston Road — at the actual sites so walkers can gain a sense of Kingston’s future.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said DKA member Dave Wetter. “I think if we can get more leverage up on it, not just the shops but other things to do, it would work out really well.”

“Walk Kingston” wouldn’t step forward until next summer Tietje said, but she’s hoping residents and community groups will start pitching ideas and support for it now.

The meeting stemmed from there, as several DKA members have been working on a list of festivals, one per month, to showcase Kingston and all it has to offer. Some of the celebrations are already in place, like the Kingston Country Christmas and Heritage Day. Others, like a Valentine’s Dance and health and fitness month, have yet to be put into action.

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