No Raleigh Wide Open This Year, Fine. Try Something New.

For the parents out there, you’ve got some time to think of a way to tell your kids that there won’t be any water ball fun in downtown now that the city has decided to drop Raleigh Wide Open this year. The economy is to blame on this one, and they feel the money is better worth saving then spending. The news might sound bad but I feel there is a positive way to look at this. Downtown Raleigh has a little breathing room and maybe an opportunity to offer something new.

If you are a downtown regular, especially on the weekends, the Spring and Fall can be quite hectic. Downtown is pretty event driven, in my opinion, with visitors brought in by large events, drowning out the local crowd. Some months, it’s weekend after weekend of street closings, crowds, music, and food. The old man in me sometimes gets tired of it all and just wants to relax.

How can downtown Raleigh create its own identity if it’s constantly catering to so many different groups?

I do believe in variety though and that downtown should have something for all. The last five years of Raleigh Wide Opens have hopefully convinced enough people that downtown is a place to visit every now and than, that there is something for you to be a part of.

But maybe with First Fridays, Raleigh Wide Open, Hopscotch, Beerfest, the 3 or 4 marathons, Bikefest, the home tour, SparkCon, Artsplosure, 4 or 5 parades combined with all the other things happening at the convention center and the amphitheater each and every year, should we care that we lost one event?

I’d be shocked to hear that nothing else that happens in downtown can’t cover anyone’s sadness over Raleigh Wide Open being dropped.

Keep enjoying downtown, but do something different this year.

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  1. Your photo reminds me. It’s amazing that “The Tringle” (the Capital City), does not have a tier one water/theme park, AMAZING. This area needs more for the kids. A water park would be a great fit in this area (Greensboro is nasty and Carowinds is pathetic – so don’t bring thise locations up). There was talk of a water park 11 years ago, again, as usual, just talk.

    What are the business leaders, city council, DRA and commissioners doing to attract new business and entertainment? Absolutely NOTHING.

  2. I agree, by the end of the summer/early fall last year we were Festival-ed out as well. It would have been cool to keep this going, but downtown will have plenty of weekend “events”. This seems like more of a symbolic move as opposed to a fiscal move. $180k is so minimal to the cities overall budget it won’t make a difference.

    @Thomas: seems like the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill metro is due for some sort of theme park. Emerald Point, Kings Dominion, and Carowinds are all long drives for kids to enjoy.

  3. At first I was disappointed, but you make a great point. As someone that lives downtown, it can get a little overwhelming and sometimes I just avoid downtown altogether on those weekends. That kind of defeats the purpose of living where I do.

  4. Thomas,

    I posted about this on GoGoRaleigh a couple of years ago. 45 of the 50 most populous metro areas in the United States have what I would deem a “significant” amusement park within a 1.5 hour drive. The only 5 that do not are Detroit, Nashville (Opryland closed in 1997), Jacksonville (but Orlando is only 2 hours away), Memphis (Libertyland closed in 2005), and Raleigh.

    As a major roller coaster nerd, this needs to change some day. :)

  5. Who would’ve thought this would’ve turned into a conversation about water/theme parks?

    Sure, @Thomas, why not take the opportunity to make your case for an overpriced, land grabbing beast that is ‘needed’ in the area? Please. Why don’t we just become as trashy as Florida while we’re at it? This area has plenty for kids and families. What we don’t have is large open green areas (read parks) for gatherings and socializing, or enough retail/restaurants to attract more people to live downtown, or affordable and SAFE housing areas as well.

    “What are the business leaders, city council, DRA and commissioners doing to attract new business and entertainment? Absolutely NOTHING.”

    This speaks volumes of your involvement and commitment within the community. Typical let-me-cry-foul-under-the-rock-I’m-living attitude. Why don’t you get involved in one of those groups instead and do something about it?

  6. An amusement park with water rides (like Six Flags) wouldn’t be on Fayetteville St…. but somewhere like RTP would be great, if businesses continue exiting. Central location, lots of hot weather, tons of families in the Triangle… I think it could work. ;-)

  7. @RaleighObserver: I don’t mean to be sarcastic – I honestly don’t – but we have open green spaces for gatherings and socializing… They are called golf courses and cover a lot of acres in our area, and this comes from someone who doesn’t give a damn about golf. Please, no more open spaces that do nothing more than please a few. On the other hand, I am all for green [neighborhood] squares, in the same fashion with DT Savannah. Spread them all over the city and you may see more socializing. Easier to monitor, too

    @Thomas: I have been asking the same question for a while now: What are we doing as a city to attract new businesses? Honestly, I don’t know the full extent of our leaders’ efforts, so I won’t try to answer. However, I think that there are efforts made, just not well coordinated. We may have an exception that we may also use as a starting point: Red Hat. Sure, it took incentives and pressure from state and local governments, as well as developers and downtown boosters, but this is a golden opportunity that may turn into something big. If Red Hat moves to downtown and its leadership is happy with that move, it will send a positive message to other technology companies. The creative class can find a home in downtown.

    The current economic conditions do not allow for much, and only a handful of cities have enough momentum to sustain additional growth in their downtown areas (in the form of high-rise development). We are not doing bad, though. Adding rental units in DT Raleigh is a good step forward and may provide yet-another strong weapon in the arsenal of downtown promoters. Availability of residential space is also a plus in the eyes of companies like Red Hat. After all, not everyone is a CEO who can afford a $750,000+ condo. I would say that patience is needed. At least there is some activity in our downtown.

  8. @Ernest: I think we are talking about the same thing. I didn’t mean we need Central Park in NYC or anything like that, and definitely was talking about Moore/Nash square types (which I consider similar to DT Savannah.. not that we can go back and redesign the city or anything)

  9. @RaleighObserver: Sorry for misunderstanding your post :( Yes, I agree, we need many open spaces of manageable size. Unfortunately, developers resort to pathetic and useless areas instead of functional ones. Even smaller squares would become popular. This is not a perfect example, but Madison Park – my favorite neighborhood in North Raleigh (near the new Whole Foods) – has a small area in the center where the neighbors often have get-togethers. Similar areas, but larger, can accomplish a lot!!!

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