The words “downtown bazaar” on the North Shore conjure up images of sidewalk sales in Salem or street festivals in Beverly. Who would have thought downtown Peabody?
But that’s exactly what happened last weekend, as the new Peabody Downtown Association hosted its first event, a bazaar that filled the city’s normally quiet business district with music, food vendors and entertainment. It’s a first step, but a big one, in the revitalization of the area, which, aside from the annual International Festival, rarely sees large groups of visitors.
The city is trying on several fronts to upgrade the downtown, including the recently completed traffic and sidewalk improvements, designed not only to improve traffic flow but to make the area more pedestrian-friendly. Planners have been trying to encourage more residents to live downtown — which was a key element in Salem’s revival — and local groups have been trying to make that more appealing with everything from arts events to a farmers market. There’s even a new downtown park.
The Downtown Association, formed this summer, gives a real boost to those efforts, bringing in important players in the effort — those who already live or work downtown.
It’s a slow process, but one that is well worth the effort. Kudos to all those involved.
It also serves as a reminder to those of us who drive through downtown Peabody that it might be time to stop, look and get out of the car. You never know what you’ll discover.