According to organizer Sally Johnson, the event averages 3,000 people on good weather days. Johnson, owner of the Chandlery on 950 Canton St. has been the program’s organizer for the last seven years.
“You run into your neighbors, your friends and the people you go to church with,” Johnson said. “It’s been the best thing for Roswell in the last eight years.”
April through October, Canton Street bustles with activity the third Thursday of every month. At the event, the roadway from Norcross Street to Magnolia Street is cordoned off. Trolleys carry shoppers, diners and sightseers from Roswell City Hall to Canton Street, where the air crackles with live music and the aroma of local eateries.
“Alive After 5 was designed to create an event for the local community,” Johnson said. “It’s to bring people out and about on the streets of Roswell.”
Many galleries, retailers and restaurants keep their doors open past their normal business hours as part of the festivities. Deborah Hardee, co-owner of Oli + Ve on 1003 Canton St., said her shop usually doubles its business during the monthly event.
“It’s certainly helped awareness and sales,” she said. “It’s just a fun place to be … I personally think it has put Roswell on the map.”
Heidi VinCola, owner of 9 Design Home Decor at 1066 Canton St., also said the event is beneficial for her business.
“We have great sales during Alive After 5,” she said. “Usually, it’s a lot of smaller items…candles, jewelry, things like that.”
Roux on Canton owner Zachary Bramblett said his restaurant at 946 Canton Street brings in more evening diners than normal during the event. He considers the event not just a success for the district, but the entire city.
“I was part of Alive After 5 from the very beginning,” he said. “It was a huge event that sparked a new energy on Canton Street.”
Others, however, are not so fond of the festivities.
“Honestly, it doesn’t help my business anymore,” said Valerie Jackson, owner of the Ann Jackson Gallery at 932 Canton Street. She criticized the scant parking and outside vendors, and said the event does not lead to increased sales at her business.
“Now, it has gotten to be so big and so crowded,” she said. “It’s a destination just to party in the street.”
Candice Hawkins, a representative of the Sacred Mother Healing Clinic at 1025 Canton St., said the emphasis on local retailers has been lost.
“It’s kind of turned into more of a drink fest than getting to know the businesses,” she said.