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First Fridays back in Steubenville with Halloween theme

File photo SET TO RETURN — Costumed characters took to the streets of downtown Steubenville on Nov. 1 for the final installment of First Fridays on Fourth for 2019. The Halloween-themed festivities included costume and pumpkin-carving contests, as well as treat stations. Maleah Good, 4, dressed as a lion while her brother Kai, 6, of Wintersville dressed as Marshall from “Paw Patrol.”

STEUBENVILLE — The Harmonium Project’s First Fridays on Fourth is returning Friday.

The city will block off the 100 blocks of North Fourth and South Fourth streets for the celebration, set to begin at 6 p.m.

“It’s the first proper First Friday since coronavirus hit,” said Harmonium Project volunteer Maura Barnes, “and we’ve missed seeing our friends and neighbors celebrating in the street.”

The Harmonium Project is a group of young people devoted to revitalizing downtown Steubenville through music and art. The organization began First Fridays on Fourth Street in 2018, with the hope of hosting a festival that would show off the potential of the downtown.

The event has grown since then, drawing thousands of locals, students and visitors into the downtown area.

“The goal has always been to show people that if we can thrive for one night of every month, why not two?” Harmonium Project President Marc Barnes said. “And if two, why not every night of the month?”

The theme of the evening is Oktoberfest, and the evening will feature bands, a street market and late night shopping, as well as dining at local businesses, children’s games and activities, art displays, dancing and competitions,

“Coronavirus was a real tough cookie to swallow,” said Brodie Stutzman, a Labelle resident and Harmonium volunteer who likes to attend First Friday with pet snakes, lizards, and a Polaroid camera for kids brave enough to take a “selfie” with his reptilian friends. “Going from crowded streets to cancellations was like having a friend slam on your emergency break while you’re merging onto the Autobahn; your coffee goes flying; your plans crash through the windshield; and, well, you stop.”

But last month, the state health department issued new directives for entertainment venues, including music events like First Fridays, limiting total occupancy and mandating social distancing.

The Harmonium Project is providing socially-distanced seating, limiting occupancy, asking everyone to wear masks, reducing cash transactions and making hand sanitizer available at the event.

Activities will include craft beer, pumpkin-carving and pumpkin-painting competitions; delicious food from local restaurants and food trucks, live music from the likes of Spinning Jenny and the Matt Hill Jazz Quartet.

(Harris can be contacted at lharris@heraldstaronline.com)

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