While the City of Red Deer has for the most part moved at a snail’s pace over the past decade to make the downtown core more exciting and attractive for visitors there is cause to celebrate today.
And it is due to a simple but yet heartfelt initiative by ordinary citizens who have always and will forever more care about their downtown.
Last week, Canada’s first street piano was unveiled at the Thai Garden Restaurant at 4916 Ross St.
This initiative now puts the Central Alberta city in great company along with London, Birmingham and Bristol in England as well as Sao Paulo, Brazil and Sydney, Australia.
And while there might be some officials at City Hall who may want to angle a bit for credit it simply can not go there.
Local crime prevention guru Steve Woolrich, with the help of downtown businessman Paul Harris and many others, made the street piano idea happen, and in doing so have breathed an exhilarating breath of inspired life in the downtown core. Added to this, youth from Street Ties will eventually paint a mural on the instrument as well.
How thrilling is it to know that citizens can at any time go downtown on a gorgeous summer day to shop and take a break to ‘tickle the ivories’? No one needs to be a pro. It is just an invitation to come alive, to laugh – even at ourselves, in the heart of a great western Canadian city.
Harris notes that while it is one more way of improving the downtown, it will fit well with the new Veteran’s Park next to the Cenotaph that will be completed this fall on Ross St.
While we have to be careful about giving too much credit to City officials for the addition of the street piano we should offer them a pat on the back for moving forward on Veteran’s Park as well as the new downtown parkade. A little further down the road Red Deerians will see the official openings of Executive Place and the new RCMP headquarters, both major projects which City Hall has played a significant part in ensuring they are realized.
Recently Mayor Morris Flewwelling said he is excited to see the City’s downtown becoming more “uptown.”
That feeling is justified but not necessarily because of big high profile projects, either realized or now in the mid to long term planning stages.
The greatest excitement is being triggered by the ordinary people of downtown doing their humble part to make things happen.
And with that, Red Deerians can take a cue from Billy Joel’s Piano Man.
Sing us a song, you’re the piano man Sing us a song tonight. Well, we’re all in the mood for a melody And you’ve got us feelin’ alright.
That may only be a song, but for Red Deer it is now wonderfully appropriate.