This post was written by Thomas Barr, Director of Member Engagement and Operations for Local First Arizona.
On Saturday, August 22nd, The City of Mesa, Valley Metro, and residents all throughout the valley celebrated the grand opening of the light rail extension to Downtown Mesa. This was a much anticipated extension that Downtown Mesa has been eagerly waiting to happen to contribute to it's unique walkable streets, now fully accessible by light rail. A very exciting part of this event was that the extension was completed 7 months ahead of schedule! If you are familiar with downtown Mesa, you'll know that it is home to local coffee shops, music stores, restaurants, museums, art, culture, and of course, a local brewery! All of which many people celebrated and visited at the event on Saturday.
I took advantage of the festivities and decided to bike down and experience the excitement first hand. Valley Metro added 4 new light rail stops leading through downtown Mesa, all which were developed very strategically and designed very well. At each stop on Saturday, there were themed activities including Discover Education, Discover Community, Discover Downtown Mesa and Discover Mesa's History. The streets at each stop were filled with family activities, live music, food trucks, and many different vendors, showcasing the unique aspects of Mesa and all it has to offer.
I spent a lot of time as a teenager in downtown Mesa to see concerts at The Nile Theatre. It is thrilling to now see all the development that has happened and how the community is thriving. On Saturday, I visited several Local First Arizona businesses and was happy to see all of them packed with visitors. Businesses from Queen's Pizzeria to Desert Eagle Brewing Company all offered daily specials and opened early to accommodate the festivities, truly showing that local businesses go the extra mile to provide great service and are unique pillars in our communities. I even spoke to someone that drove to the light rail stop at 19th Avenue and Bethany in Phoenix, parked his car, and rode the rail all the way down to Mesa to take part in the experience. He had nothing but great things to say about how convenient it was, and how nice all the people he was greeted by were at the businesses. Now that's civic engagement!
Didn't know about the event on Saturday? Weren't aware there was even a light rail extension? No fear, Local First Arizona is here! Grab one of our Downtown Mesa Small Wonders Maps and visit anytime. Even better, take the light rail and see how our city is evolving, valley wide, into a walkable, local business focused, thriving economy, with culture, unique businesses, and experiences that involve everyone.