It felt like normal life again.
There I was, last Wednesday night, sitting solo on the bench in front of the Residences of Old City Hall. (Which is, for the record, my dream Rochester home if we ever sell our house. Have you SEEN the grand staircase and art deco lighting?)
Anyway. There I was, on the bench in front of Old City Hall. On the sidewalk in front of me, masked Rochester residents and guests ambled by, enjoying the temperate evening. Across First Avenue and Historic Third Street, diners sat distanced and chatting on restaurant patios. To my right, the reason I'd made the trip downtown, the evening's Sidewalk Session was going strong.
Do you know about the Sidewalk Sessions? It's one way our city is supporting local musicians — and keeping live music alive for the rest of us — during the COVID-19 pandemic. And here's what that means for you: You can hear live music, at three different downtown locations, every single weekday into October. (You read that right: Three locations. Every single weekday.)
A quick online search will give you the details — but basically, what you need to know is this: Central Park is hosting musicians from 12 to 1 p.m. through Oct. 19. Peace Plaza (the side that isn't completely torn up) is hosting musicians from 12 to 1 p.m. through Oct. 7. And you'll find musicians in front of the Residences of Old City Hall from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. through Oct. 16.
Tonight, the D'Sievers play at Old City Hall. Tomorrow, Dianna Parks is back, with guest Tim Dallman. Drop down on Thursday, and you'll get to hear Jeremy Jewell. You can check out the Rochester Downtown Alliance website (www.downtownrochestermn.com/placemaking/sidewalk-sessions) for the full schedule of all three locations — because, as much as I'd like to give them to you here, I don't think my editor is going to approve my use of this whole page.
Dianna and Tim were playing last Wednesday when I sat bench-side. It was all the things I love best about summer: A warm evening with a light breeze. Live music under an open sky. That feeling of community that's made me an ardent supporter of this town of ours. And, this year, the delicious sense of normalcy I think we're all longing for. I mean, sure, it's masked and distanced normalcy. But I'll take it.
As the pandemic continues on (and on … and on …), organizations are getting creative with offering safe and "normal" activities like these. You can mask up and practice social distancing and still: Visit the "Creative Confinement" exhibit at Rochester Art Center. See a drive-in movie out at the History Center of Olmsted County. Pick up some fresh veggies at a farmers market. Catch a show, with spaced seating, at the Rochester Repertory Theatre, Absolute Theatre or Civic Theatre. Enjoy dinner, drinks or a latte on one of the city's many expanded restaurant, brewery or coffee shop patios.
There are several local event calendars available for more info on these and other Rochester-centric options. Rochester Magazine includes a monthly calendar in every issue. The Rochester Downtown Alliance has a good one (at www.downtownrochestermn.com/events/calendar). And in about a week's time, you'll be able to find the PB's new-and-improved area-wide calendar online.
So check them out. Find the options that feel safest to you right now. And just maybe get back to a bit of "normal" life.
Jennifer Koski is associate editor at Rochester Magazine. Her column appears Tuesdays. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.