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The Midwest Regional Ballet group dances at the Back to Broadway Fair. The group was performing at the fair to promote local artists and performers on Saturday, Aug. 18.

Downtown area welcomes students back to the Jungle

The 4th Street block of Broadway hosted local businesses and student organizations during the “Back to Broadway” celebration Saturday, Aug. 18. The celebration welcomed community members and students alike, including new residents of Block22. 

“Westar approached us and they wanted to help us with something special for the community,” said Vonnie Corsini, event organizer for the street fair. “We approached Mpix, and we approached Craw-Kan Radio, and we approached Jake’s Fireworks. The list just goes on and on.” 

Businesses involved in the event provided various facets to make the event run smooth. Craw-Kan funded the use of the stage for the concerts; Jake’s Fireworks provided tents so fair vendors could stay cool and out of the heat; and Mpix sponsored a beer garden as part of the event. 

The “Back to Broadway” was also a celebration of the recently opened Block22 development on the block. Corsini noted the teamwork and determination that went into developing the downtown project. 

“Town and gown collaboration is a win-win for everyone,” Corsini said. 

Corsini also has had a personal hand in developing Block22, as she is also the executive director of the Colonial Fox Theatre Foundation. 

“If we got just 10 percent of our 7,000 students to come downtown on a regular basis just to see what’s going on we would be able to really change the face of downtown,” Corsini said. 

The Colonial Fox Theatre Foundation owns the National Bank building, one of the historic structures preserved as part of Block22. 

“Block22 builds community and that community builds opportunity,” Corsini said. “Then our students who graduate will stay in this community. There’s just so many great things to celebrate here.” 

Corsini was responsible for contacting the local businesses and organizations that posted up at “Back to Broadway,” which included business from all stretches of the community. 

“It really shows the pulse of the city,” said Ginger Cawley, Hampton Inn and Suites sales manager and Colonial Fox Theatre board member.  

“I stopped by the Theatre, being a thespian myself, and I got to know Vonnie,” Cawley said. “We started having more and more partnership after I started working at the Hampton, being able to provide rooms for the events they bring in. She invited me and the other business on the street here to help support the students.”  

Cawley said she is happy to support an event like “Back to Broadway” that really shows the “bright future” that Pittsburg has in store. 

“It’s a good sign,” Cawley said. “Specifically, we’ve been able to hold a lot of huge events, like the Division II championships this past March. It’s opportunities like that bring in so much wealth and prosperity to Pittsburg.” 

Cawley, like many local business owners, noticed the vibrancy of the downtown area has decreased over time, but she believes that Block22 can bring it back. 

“We have more restaurants popping up, more hotels, and I think it’s a huge marker of progress,” Cawley said. 

“Back to Broadway” concluded with a reduced price concert for students to help kick off the school year. 


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