By Andy Medici

More than 75 people braved the coldest temperatures so far this year in order to be a part of the Deutschtown Merchant’s Association’s first “Light up Night.” The event was geared to showing people all of what East Ohio Street has to offer and to give families a fun evening out.

Local restaurant Bistro to Go provided cookies and cider, while other members of the association planned and orchestrated the event, which came complete with a visit from St. Nicholas.

People gathered in and around a tent set up near Benjamin Wheeler’s, while a large lighted tree was placed in the empty and gated lot next door.

John Graf, the manager of the Priory Hospitality Group, which runs the Priory Bakery and the Priory Hotel, said that their aim was to bring people to the district.

“It was nice. I thought it was a good turnout for a cold night,” Graf said. “I think the idea is to get the community together and enjoy the business district.” He added that part of the goal was to gain exposure for the Northside’s largest business district.

“There’s lot of people out there that may not know about it.”

Barbara Burns, the owner of the Sweet Time Café, helped organize and run the first-ever Light Up Night. She estimated total turnout around 100 people, and said it exceeded her expectations.

“It was a great showing. I thought it would have been a huge success if 30 people had showed up,” Burns said. “In some ways, we’re beginning to make this parklet more important to the community.”

She highlighted the group of employees, merchants and families that came out to support them, and that they were able to put on an event like this one.

“I just think it’s indicative of the effort being put forward and the desire to do more,” Burns said. “This is our effort to beautify and bring a sense of festivity to the community. That’s really what this effort has been about.”