GREELEY, Colo. (CBS4) – Alison Hamling knows how far Downtown Greeley has come since the Great Recession. Now, her work is getting her recognized in the state.
“Downtown eight years ago was a lot of boarded up stores and a lot of empty spaces for rent,” said Hamling about the time she took over the position of Director of Experience at the Downtown Development Authority.
Hamling and her team started working on Colorado’s newly-passed Common Consumption law. It allowed downtown Greeley to block off streets to traffic and people could freely take alcohol from restaurants onto the street.
“We were the first ones to actually implement that. On Friday, we started closing the streets and at that time I think there were eight or nine bars. There are bars now that didn’t exist at the time. Restaurants came and opened specifically for the Friday Fests that they had heard about.”
Friday Fest, and common consumption allowed downtown festivities to flourish.
“Blarney on the Block was also one of the first things I implemented. We didn’t have a St. Patrick’s Day celebration. I thought, ‘well let’s just do something really small.’ That has exploded. Next year the parade I think is going to go beyond our boundaries,” Hamling said about an event that now draws more than 6,000 people.
When Distortions Unlimited reached out, Monster Day became a reality.
“It’s a day celebration of all things monster,” Hamling laughed.
Last week, Hamling was honored with an Outstanding Frontline Tourism Worker Award from the Colorado Tourism Office, beating out all other entries from Denver to the Wyoming border.
“I’m embarrassed and humbled,” Hamling said. “There’s a lot of hard working people that go into making people’s visits a really good experience, a memorable experience and make them want to come back. Now I think people are starting to recognize Greeley as a tourist destination. That’s what makes me happiest about this award.”
The first Friday Fest of the season is May 31.