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City leaders consider allowing more street parties and parades in downtown Norfolk

Norfolk, Va. - Street closures for parties and parades don't happen often in Downtown Norfolk, and almost never when it's not for a city-sponsored event. City leaders might change that.

“I don`t know what`s good for the city overall, except that we are really excited to see more people on the street Downtown, and more of that festival atmosphere,” says Patrick Mullins, associate artistic director for the Virginia Stage Company.

For the past few years, Norfolk has allowed the Virginia Stage Company to shut a very small part of Tazewell Street for a fundraising gala outside their theater. But at the same time, city leaders admit they don't have any clear rules about who can ask Downtown street closures. So, they're thinking, why not let anyone host a street festival.

“I think events like that, when handled properly, help build a sense of community that everybody wants,” says Porter Hardy, owner of Smartmouth Brewing Company.

So the city council is considering new ideas, and a change to an old alcohol law, to let just about anyone ask for a street closure. Charities, businesses, even just regular citizens. It wouldn't be a boozy free-for-all, there would still be curfews and special areas set aside for beer drinking. But the city hopes it would inject some more fun into Downtown.

I am an artist. I have a hard time speaking for the entire city of Norfolk. I know I love living in a vibrant place and often a sign if vibrancy is festivals, and things that happen on the street. It`s a great feeling,” Mullins says.

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