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11/21/2012 2:00:00 AM
Evolution of Party Night
It's not the same as when first it started
By Rick Holtz

Downtown Party Night is not the same today as when it first started.

When most people think of Party Night, they think of today's rendition. Few think of it in its early years - when Marlene Simonds had it at her store, MS at Federal Street.

"It wasn't a Downtown Party Night," she said. "It was my Party Night."

Simonds said that the first year she had a party night was 1980 and she had it on her own for three years before other downtown businesses joined in.

"Some of the other merchants realized it was a pretty big success," she said.

Today's rendition is family-friendly. Simonds described the original Party Nights as a cocktail party.

"Stores served champagne," she said. "Back in those days you could do that. At midnight it was hard to get people out of the store. It was that successful."

One thing that has been a constant has been the timing. Simonds said it has always been the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

"I am very proud and pleased that it continued and what it has become," she said. "So many of the stores are gone now that participated in the early ones."

Downtown Party Night still kicks off the holiday season in Crawfordsville.

"It is a big weekend for retail business," she said. "It was a promotion that was well-received by the public. People looked forward to it. As more businesses joined in, it was a gala event."

Simonds said that she did not have Santa Claus at the early Party Nights.

"It wasn't a children's night," she said. "It became a family night much later. That's why it continued to be a success I am sure."

So Saturday in between shopping and visiting with family and friends, if you see her - and you will, because she never misses a Party Night - go up and talk to Simonds about the early days of Party Night.

"Some have bad weather," she said. "Some have beautiful snow. It still brings people out. It's wonderful to see so many young people attend Downtown Party Night."

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