I’ve been enjoying the letters from John McNeer. Reading them brings back fond memories of the Newton of my childhood, about all the businesses and restaurants that have long since gone away. It is nice nostalgia.
One event I’ll never forget was Ridiculous Days around the square every year during one Saturday in July. The sidewalks would be so crowded with merchandise and shoppers looking for great bargains it was difficult to even walk around the square on that one Saturday every July.
There would be a free movie for the kids at the Capitol Theater, even a few small carnival rides for the young at heart on the northeast corner of the square.
We would get there very early in the morning to get a parking spot and stay until the afternoon. It was great fun.
So last weekend during Ridiculous Days I checked out the square and all I saw were a few tables set up here and there with hardly anyone walking around shopping. It was sad indeed. And as I drive around Newton and see all the empty storefronts cluttering First Avenue I have to wonder why we have made so little progress since Maytag left?
The Family Video building has sat empty for more than a year. The old Drugtown store has been vacant for at least 15 years that I can remember. We recently saw signs in the windows of the old Pizza Hut and Flooring Store buildings promising new businesses were coming soon and now there are for lease signs again decorating their windows.
We have to ask, what is the city council, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Main Street group doing to entice viable, exciting new businesses to set up here? Or to even follow through and actually open their business instead of just giving up before that happens?
Seems to me for every two steps forward Newton takes, it takes three steps backwards.
At least we have McNeer’s letters to remind us of how fun and vibrant Newton used to be.
Maybe someday it will be that way again.