When Academy Street shuts down for an evening at the end of July, it won’t be for what one might expect amidst the ongoing Main Street construction. Instead, it will be part of the first event to come out of The Newark Partnership, which formally launched in May.
Under a party tent, the First Responders Dinner will serve food from 14 Newark restaurants to benefit the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 4’s catastrophe fund, Aetna Hose, Hook & Ladder Company’s Capital Campaign Fund and TNP.
The event will be held on July 25 on Academy Street, between Main Street and Delaware Avenue, and will run from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tickets will cost $125 per person or $1,000 for a table of eight. Organizers are asking attendees to wear white.
There will be live music and a six-course meal. The dinner is limited to 150 seats.
Participating restaurants include Home Grown Cafe, Taverna, Stone Balloon Ale House, Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen, Blue Crab Grill, Caffe Gelato, Drip Cafe, Klondike Kate’s, Santa Fe Mexican Grill, Deer Park, Halal Kabab, Ali Baba, Grotto Pizza and Bing’s Bakery.
Former mayor Polly Sierer, who serves as co-chair of the TNP’s events committee, noted that part of the goal of the TNP is to give back to the community.
“The Newark Police Department catastrophe fund and Aetna Hose, Hook and Ladder capital campaign are both organizations that I think our community is committed to supporting, and we as a partnership should be supporting that as well,” she said.
She also noted that, for the first TNP event, it was important for the dinner to be self-funding while TNP establishes its funding sources. Proceeds from the ticket prices, and sponsorships from businesses like Bloom Energy and Tito’s Vodka, will cover the costs of the event and benefit the charitable organizations.
During the TNP’s launch last month, Dan Rich, director of the University of Delaware’s Community Engagement Initiative, said that the organization is interested in starting new events, rather than duplicating ones its predecessor, the Downtown Newark Partnership, hosted.
“We need to find ways where we help the community celebrate itself and promote activities that are beneficial to a broad base. Some of them are going to be specialized. That dinner is sort of specialized because people need to pay for it,” he said, adding that other events, like the Newark Futures Workshops, will be open events with no charge. “There will be a combination of activities, just as there is a diversity in Newark.”
Sierer agreed, noting that they wanted to start small for the first event, while also supporting local businesses affected by the Main Street construction project.
“I think it’s important that the Newark Partnership have similar events in the entire community. We certainly realize that our first event is on Main Street and many of the restaurants are Main Street restaurants that are participating in the dinner. As we go forward, certainly, we plan on doing events in the entire community,” she said, adding that the committee is in the preliminary stages of planning a free arts and music festival at the Shoppes of Louviers this fall.
July will also brings a change to the TNP’s board. The governing board, which helped get the organization running, will give way to a permanent board of directors, which will be seated July 16.
That board will consist of the mayor of Newark or his designee, the Newark city manager or his designee, the director of UD’s Community Engagement Initiative, the UD president or his designee, a UD student selected by the student government, six at-large members selected by the board and two members of each of the organization’s three committees.
TNP plans to hire an executive director, but Rich said that will come later.
“I think we’re going to put most of our efforts into programming,” he said.
Looking ahead to the first event, Sierer said it was a unique opportunity.
“We encourage people to come and see what we’re all about,” she said.
For more information or to buy tickets, visit www.thenewarkpartnership.org.