Gallery on Gazebo to host Better Block event

·3 min read

Jul. 14—JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — Transforming cities one block at a time.

In an effort to bring the concept to the area, Gallery on Gazebo will host a Better Block event from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday along Gazebo Place in downtown Johnstown.

Gazebo Place will be closed to traffic and transformed into a pedestrian walkway offering activities, games, artisans, vendors, merchants and entertainment.

Rosemary Pawlowski, gallery director, said the idea for the event came about in 2017 when Andrew Howard, of Team Better Block, presented a workshop to city and county officials on how one city block can plant the seeds to transform a city.

"He encourages people, whether it's a big city or small city, to do an inventory of a block and find out what's there and what's not there and get the cooperation of merchants and bring into that block as much dynamics as you can and have a showcase," she said. "It was a great workshop, but nothing happened."

Pawlowski said after looking back over her notes from the workshop she decided to revisit the Better Block concept.

For funding, she reached out to the Cambria Somerset Associates of Realtors, who connected her with the National Association of Realtors.

"We got the money from a Smart Growth grant, and it awards money to communities who are interested in place making," Pawlowski said.

"What you're doing is making a place much more interesting and energized."

As part of the day, representatives from the Cambria Somerset Associates of Realtors will be inside Galley on Gazebo showcasing on photo boards properties that are available in downtown Johnstown along with acquired properties and how they have been transformed.

Businesses and organizations along Gazebo Place will open their doors to attendees to see what they have to offer.

Additional downtown business also will be participating.

Along Gazebo Place, Bottle Works will have a tent with artist demonstrations and children's activities, SEADS Garden Center will offer demonstrations, a pop-up dog park will be at the end of the street along with the Humane Society of Cambria County who will have adoptable dogs, and members of the Johnstown Tomahawks organization will making their rounds.

Rick Kingera will provide musical entertainment throughout the day, and introduction to salsa will be offered at 2:30 p.m. in the gazebo by Atayay Robles.

"We'll have music, dancing, entertainment and arts, many participatory things," Pawlowski said.

In addition, there will be street painting with washable paint and chalkboards set up for people to share their thoughts on what they'd like to see in downtown Johnstown.

"This is people's opportunity to come and tell us what they'd like to see," Pawlowski said.

Jenna Cramer, event chairwoman, said the Better Block event is a chance to reimagine the Gazebo Park block, bringing color, art, games, new ideas and vitality to downtown.

"It's not just about the physical transformation of the block, it's what the transformation will create — an energetic atmosphere, authentic vibe and an experience centered on people," Cramer said.

"Gazebo Park's Better Block will serve as a model for what is possible with a little planning, coordination and a solid community effort."

Artisans and vendors interested in participating in the event can email Cramer at jccc36018@gmail.com.

There is no admission fee.

For more information, visit www.galleryongazebo.org.