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Belleville BIA organizes ‘Al Fresco’ event to draw visitors to downtown

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Family friendly, dining and music just some of the attractions in the summer long initiative – Jul 30, 2021

From painted chairs and pianos to giant swings, Belleville’s downtown core is sporting a decidedly different look.

It’s all part of an initiative called ‘Al Fresco’ by Belleville Downtown District BIA.

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“We had to find a way of being able to encourage people to come down and be able to do something that was fun, entertaining and still safely,” says Kathryn Brown of the BIA.

The painted pianos occupy an open space at the corner of Bridge Street and Front Street, and for some, the need to tickle the ivories is too much to resist.

“I think it’s nice, I think it’s a good idea,” says Belleville resident Gloria Hatter. “I read it and I thought, that’s really good. Anybody can play, just sit down and do it.”

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And that marriage between business and art seems to be a happy one.

Not only can Erin McDonald play the piano, she painted one to have a 1920s flapper feel to it.

“My family went out to B.C. and we saw a bunch (of pianos) that were painted down there,” says McDonald. “I had been looking around for a piano to paint, to be donated, and I didn’t get the opportunity until this year from Downtown Belleville.”

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Portions of Front Street are blocked off, allowing businesses to have patio space that Brown says is complemented with music on Fridays, creating an enhanced dining experience.

“So we’ve put our musicians not inside but right out on the street because it’s all about Al Fresco,” says Brown. “It’s all about dining and taking part and being outdoors.”

Belleville’s BIA seems to have struck the right note with its Al Fresco initiative and is set to continue until August 31.

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