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‘Evenings on 5th’ returns to downtown Naples, a welcomed event for many

Dozens of people were in downtown Naples Thursday for the return of “Evenings on 5th” for the first time during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s an event businesses and people enjoy.

People downtown said they were happy to see something that brings back a sense of normalcy. And a bit of rain didn’t stop them from enjoying being out in public. It did’t stop live music from playing either. Performers simply moved indoors, where laughter and music could be heard along 5th Ave.

“Honestly, music, live music, smiling people, happy people, that’s what 5th Ave. needed right now,” said. Massi Tonni, with La Trattoria.

It’s the sound of being one step closer to a time before the onset of the pandemic.

“It was kind of depressing for a while,” Maria Barao said. “But it’s starting to pick up, and I’m so happy we came down here tonight.”

“Evenings on 5th”are back and appreciated more than ever before, even if the rain put people indoors for part of the night.

“Oh, my gosh, I love it. Oh, I love it,” Gloria Slade said. “So much action and the music and dancing on the streets. I miss that.”

“It’s so boring at home,” Barao said. “We need to enjoy life and get back into a routine and love life again.”

And people didn’t notice any problems with social distancing.

“We know it’s going to be not busy because it’s only September, but no there are no problems,” Mike Slade said

Evenings on 5th will continue every second Thursday of the month.

“It brings more people out, even if the weather is not the best right now,” Tonni said. “We’re happy to see live music here. We’re happy to see people dining.”

We visited downtown Naples ahead of the final preparations for the return of “Evenings on 5th” Thursday

Staying home for a long period of time has not been easy for many and neither is managing a restaurant like Veljko Pavicevic has been during a pandemic.

“It was one of the most challenging moments and still is with the restaurant industry,” Pavicevic said.

But a Naples staple has finally returned. Sale signs are in windows of businesses in downtown Naples. Restaurants are getting their kitchens ready in hopes “Evenings on 5th” will bring more people downtown.

”I think people need to be social and see other people, especially after all this time,” Courtney Pearson said.

Pearson is among those who have had important events canceled due to concerns for COVID-19.

”We were supposed to get married in April, but that didn’t happen,” Pearson said.

People are thankful to return to some kind of normal

“Everybody wants us to get back to normal,” Paul Flowerman said.

But some like Flowerman, whose wife has an underlying health condition, hope it’s not too quick, as big resorts like the J.W. Marriott on Marco Island welcome conferences and events again.

“People let down their guard,” Flowerman said. “There’s a wedding in Maine and then, all of a sudden, hundreds and hundreds of people are infected.”

Flowerman hopes folks keep masks and social distancing in mind

”I think we have to be creative, combative, and we have to be compassionate of others,” he said.

Reporter:Taylor Smith
Gina Tomlinson
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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