When you hear the words “Main Street” they conjure up images of an America from long ago. There’s the old City Hall, the fire station, several restaurants, watering holes, a market, a barber shop, a bank and the local newspaper's office. There’s a general store, clothiers, booksellers and hardware shops. Half Moon Bay resembles this imagined town. We also have a vibrant multicultural heritage and an ocean.

But not all is well on the Coastside. The problem isn’t unique to us. Most towns have it, but here it’s ours to fix, and we can.

Small-town shops are struggling against the forces that threaten to turn every town into Everytown: online shopping, big box stores offering one-stop shopping, and the stay-at-home isolation caused by the pandemic.

Our local economy depends on local commerce. We can’t rely solely on the weekend and holiday influx of tourists. We need to meet as many of our needs as we can from local sources, stimulating employment and preserving the traditions that make the Coastside unique.

Also, there are those days when highways 1 and/or 92 are blocked, and the nearest Costco might as well be on Neptune.

That’s why the Coastside Recovery Initiative is spearheading “Make It Main Street,” a free celebration of the Coastside’s creative community from 3 to 7 p.m. each first Thursday of the month through Nov. 4. Where? Along Main Street, of course!

Make It Main Street is:

- Live music performed outdoors on 300-700 blocks of Main Street;

- Live, multilingual literary performances — poetry and prose — in Mac Dutra Park;

- Short films shown in the Odd Fellows Hall;

- A “Makers’ Marketplace” with local artisans and demonstrations of their skills in glassblowing, guitar-making, sculpture and other crafts;

- Acoustic Music Circle and stringed instrument repairs in the 700 block.

For the August event, Sunset Piano comes back to its roots as Main Street Piano. Three grand pianos and a Garden Piano sculpture will be installed in gardens, courtyards and public spaces along Half Moon Bay’s historic Main Street, with scheduled and spontaneous performances by internationally known Coastside concert pianists and accompanists throughout the weekend.

Beginning on Thursday, Aug. 5, expect performances by Juilliard alum Lisa Spector, jazzman Steve Abrams with bassist Heath Proskin, Esther Aeschbach, the soulful Stephanie Newsome, Sammi Foti paying tribute to iconic female musicians, and duets with Sunset Piano founder Mauro Ffortissimo and flutist Viviana Guzman.

Erin Tormey, of farmers markets fame, recruited a group of local organizations and individuals to get Make It Main Street off the ground, with support from the city of Half Moon Bay, the library, Coastal Literary Arts Movement, the Chamber of Commerce, the Ocean View Odd Fellows, ALAS, Beach Break Entertainment, Event Savvy, a cadre of dedicated volunteers and initial financial support from Half Moon Bay Winery and Ocean Blue Real Estate.

Clifford Hunt and I coordinate the Mac Dutra Park “speaker space.” Contact either of us if you are interested in sharing your writing, or reading someone else’s that you find meaningful.

Come join us on Aug. 5!

Louie@coastsidenewsgroup.com remembers when Amazon was a river.

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