Fun times in Aurora downtown this year, in community

Gina Salamone waves, along with Derek Conley, on an Aurora Downtown float in last year's Winter Lights parade. Salamone is a volunteer board member for Aurora Downtown, a nonprofit of business and property owners in SSA #One in Aurora. Jason Arthur photo
Share this article:

By Marissa Amoni – 

As the year comes to an end, I am looking back with gratitude on all of the fun times in downtown Aurora, thanks to an incredible downtown community. We are lucky to have the most amazing and supportive family in downtown, from business owners to museum staff members to stage stars.

One shining moment that stands out is when the owners of the soon-to-be Beebee’s Deli on the northeast corner of New York and River Streets put up a sign in their empty lot to promote another downtown business. Kori Kasper, owner of Branch Gardens at 77 S. Lake Street, was getting ready to sell Christmas trees on her corner lot for the first time, so Joel Frieders and Jeremy Jensen put up a sign directing folks to Kasper’s lot.

Frieders, who owns the Elemy property development company with Jensen, then were partners with several downtown businesses on a coloring page contest for the holidays.

One of my favorite photos from the past year is of the Endiro Coffee team enjoying drinks at Tredwell Coffee on their first day of business.

It’s the collaborative attitude of those in downtown that is helping it to grow and be a place that is not just a destination, but a second home.

The downtown family often reaches beyond Special Service Area #One (SSA #One), the downtown area served by Aurora Downtown, a nonprofit of business and property owners run by an all-volunteer Board of Directors, and into the homes of those passionate about the downtown area.

Gina Salamone, of Aurora, is one volunteer at-large board member for Aurora Downtown. As chair of the Streetscape Committee, Salamone worked to get the star and tree on the Leland Tower restrung this year (see front cover). Not only did she work diligently to find the right contractor, but she housed thousands of lights in her home because she wanted to make sure they made it to the Leland Tower in time for the holidays.

Salamone’s holiday spirit didn’t stop there, however. Salamone is in charge of ordering costumes for the Winter Lights parade, run by city government of Aurora Special Events in partnership with Aurora Downtown. This year, she was one of Santa’s elves, and she added some friendly reindeer and a large Bumble to the parade. The large gold and red lighted present box on the southeast corner of New York and River Streets is thanks to Salamone and the Streetscape Committee.

Whether it’s ordering Cocoa Crawl mugs on the fly, such as board member and Aurora Regional Fire Museum executive director Brian Failing did after we realized the popularity of the recent first-time event, or creating a welcoming holiday thoroughfare along Broadway which board member Clara Diaz did by working with other neighboring businesses to hire artists to paint the windows, we all benefit from the often behind-the-scenes work of Aurora Downtown Board members and others who love downtown and want to see it flourish.

I am thankful to everyone who came downtown for an event this year, or supported a downtown museum, restaurant, theater, or business. Showing up for just one First Fridays makes a difference. Or bringing your family to the Easter Egg Hunt, Trick or Treat in Downtown, or Cocoa Crawl. Giving us the opportunity to show off the spirit of downtown is a pleasure.

I have a full heart going into 2019, and I look forward to working more with the downtown community, a true family, to help make more memories and good times in our city.

Marissa Amoni is event coordinator for Aurora Downtown, a nonprofit of business and property owners in SSA #One. A full list of 2019 events is up on the calendar at The popular Cocoa Crawl will return. Buy your Cocoa Crawl travel mug now at any downtown museum for only $10.

Leave a Reply