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Take time to get to know some of Alliance’s downtown merchants while having a little fun this week. The “200+ Block Rocks” block party began Tuesday and runs through tomorrow, Sept. 10.

Keep Alliance Beautiful, with its office in the 200 block of Box Butte Ave. above Bank of the West, is among the businesses and other entities taking part in the late-summer celebration. KAB is sponsoring a mask decorating contest. During the main part of the event, 5-8 p.m. Thursday when the Butte is blocked off between Second and Third Streets, KAB will have a booth with masks (those of the type we have all become familiar with during the Covid 19 pandemic) available for the public to decorate. You may also bring and decorate your own mask.

On Thursday evening there will be an open mic contest on the bricks. Participants are encouraged to register on the block party Facebook page. The public must bring their own lawn chairs with social distancing and wearing of masks encouraged. The Gathering Spot and Native Futures will be selling food.

A bingo game began Tuesday with cards available at any participating business. The goal is to complete the listed activities. Cards must be turned in at Steph’s Studio, 210 Box Butte, by 6 p.m. on Thursday.

The block party began a few years ago when the owner of Steph’s, Steph Mantooh, planned an open house for her new addition -- the renovated building to the south. Other businesses decided to take part, creating what has become a downtown tradition this time of year.

KAB Executive Director Kathy Worley said the whole purpose of the event is to be community minded and let residents “know what’s down here” by promoting “a sense of community and downtown wellbeing.”

A noticeable difference for 2020 is participation beyond the 200 block as businesses north of Third Street were eager to take part. The overall list consists of: 200 block -- Steph’s Studio, Bank of the West, Dave’s Pharmacy, Sandhillers Saloon, Native Futures, KAB, Bluebird Flowers, Sassy and Classy, Print Express and Crossroads Music; 300 block -- Redman’s Shoes, Chamber of Commerce, Alliance Community Pharmacy and William’s Jewelers; and in the 400 block, Special Stitches.

The red bricks of lower Box Butte have hosted a range of celebrations and events over the decades. Whether Heritage Days or Bands on the Bricks it seems you always run into somebody you have not seen in forever. Chances are it will be the same tomorrow night. If you go, have fun and don’t forget to feed the colorful trash barrels KAB has provided.

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