By COURTNEY MUNS (WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) – Although the sky was gloomy, Pine Street filled with people Tuesday to celebrate the recent streetscape renovations.
Kids ran around with cotton candy stained faces, playing games and enjoying the popcorn and excitement of the new surroundings. Many people also milled about wearing T-shirts in honor of Blaine Whitworth, the owner of two downtown bars who was recently shot and killed.
Tents were run by smiling servers handing out food and drinks as a cover band played familiar tunes on a stage set up between the alley midway down Pine Street. And many people mingled with drinks in hand as the city temporarily lifted the ban on open containers in public to accommodate the celebration.
Pine Street was closed to traffic and city, state and university officials along with downtown merchants cut a long red ribbon to mark the completion of the renovations, including new water and sewer lines, new sidewalks, street lights, planters and trees.
Different Pine Street businesses offered free food. Fitter’s served pizza, Heroes offered hot dogs and hamburgers, freshly cooked on the spot. Free cotton candy and popcorn were offered by Inks and Images as well.
The celebration also kicked off the “Bricks for Blaine” program, where people can purchase a brick with a name or message for $100 to be placed along the sidewalks. Volunteer Jenn Bradford, who was selling the bricks at the ceremony, said $50 of the proceeds go toward the Blaine Whitworth Foundation and the remainder will help maintain the downtown renovations.
“Watching the pillars of the Warrensburg community gently place their bricks into the street really symbolized the commitment this community feels towards remembering the life of a young man who pioneered the idea that a UCM student can achieve anything,” said UCM student Eva Gann.
Inks and Images, a screen-printing shop on Pine Street, started a fundraising campaign of their own to contribute to the Blaine Whitworth Foundation.
“We have T-shirts and rubber wrist bands that we’re selling right now, and we’re donating about 75 percent of proceeds to the Blaine Whitworth Foundation,” said Halli Brackman, an Inks and Images employee.
Warrensburg’s next move is to renovate the backside of buildings that face the train tracks, such as Inks and Images and Bodie’s. The project is called the Day of Caring.