New energy makes for a magic evening on Tyler Street

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Photo Gallery | 2016 Discover Tyler Street Festival

PITTSFIELD — Seven years since the Discover Tyler Street festival debuted, the Morningside neighborhood has seen a residential and commercial resurgence.

The Silk Mill Apartments boosted the affordable housing market, several new businesses replaced out-going ones, the William Stanley Business Park began attracting tenants and the newly reopened Woodlawn Avenue bridge has residents feeling more connected to the rest of the city.

"The bridge is super convenient as I come from work in [the town of] Washington," said Cody Quail. "I don't have to drive all the way around Silver Lake to get home."

As for the business park, Ron Marcella III welcomes the proposed Walmart Supercenter because it will benefit an area where he says many don't have cars.

"It's too good of a deal to pass up," he said. "I would like to see the park fill up."

Marcella and Quail were a sample of the feel-good atmosphere on Thursday evening as hundreds gathered for fun, food, live entertainment, education and magic tricks. This was the third year for the block party format of Discover Tyler Street, which ran the entire length of the businesses district from 2010-2013.

Woodlawn and part of Kellogg Street were cordoned off, making the event pedestrian-friendly similar to the stretch of North Street that hosts Third Thursday.

Spearheaded by the Tyler Street Business Group, the organization has been instrumental in revitalizing the area, according to Councilor-at-large Peter White.

"A lot more people know what's on Tyler Street, thanks to them. If someone wants to relocate here, they know who to contact,"" said the former Morningside resident.

Discover Tyler Street has improved along with the surrounding homes and businesses, picking up new sponsors each year and finding more citywide entities want to participate in the carnival-like setting.

The city's newest eating experience, Just Kickin' It Bar-B-Que kept busy feeding the masses pulled pork, pulled chicken, bacon wrapped chicken, tangy cole slaw and baked beans served with either sweet or hot sauce. The on-site catering business started up in April led by the executive chef, Tony Walker and pit master Don Harris.

The traveling food fare has been a hit at Third Thursday and other community events this summer, according to Harris.

"We had a lot of people ask if we could come to their events," he said.

As in 2015, this year's was "Arts, Activity, Innovation" with the innovation featuring the return of the Herberg Middle School robotics team. Eighth-grader Hannah Wheeler is a veteran of the Berkshire Robotics Challenge, a countywide competition where students learn to program and build robots, made of specialized Legos, to perform specific tasks.

"[The robot] has to be very versatile and very sturdy," she said.

The family affair primarily staged in the Woodlawn Avenue parking lot kept the kids entertained with face painting, the popular Roaming Railroad offering free train rides and Johnny Mystic the magician.

Johnny's sleight of hand included making large playing cards disappear in a shoebox and passing a Sharpie through a spectator's $20 bill without leaving a hole.

"I love being a magician; people are willing to give me free money," he quipped.

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233


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