A throng of Auburn residents holding tickets, cash and driver’s licenses formed around a tent in front of Stamp where wristbands, fans and wine glasses were being given out for the second annual Cheers on the Corner on Friday night.
Over 20 tents were set up on the blocked off roads of Auburn’s urban core where participating restaurants served a variety of drinks with paired hors d’oeuvres.
The orange tent outside of Tacorita served freshly squeezed margaritas with chips and queso, Moe’s Original Bar B Que served shredded pork with fried potato chips smothered in three different sauces with three wines to choose from and The Depot offered a sauvignon blanc with Hawaiian ahi tuna in smoked shoyu sauce and toasted sesame oil.
Quixotes played classic rock hits like Bon Jovi and Guns and Roses while the funk rock sounds of Spencer Daniel and the Rogue Tones dominated the soundscape of Toomer’s Corner.
Children could be seen running and playing all over downtown during the evening, whether it was taking turns playing cornhole in front of Wrapsody or dancing on the giant brick tiger paw on the intersection of College Street and Magnolia Avenue.
The stone and brick benches at the intersection were almost constantly occupied by over-heated event-goers, who held half-full souvenir glasses in one hand while desperately fanning their faces with the other.
Despite the hot and humid air, hundreds attended the event to sample food and drinks and enjoy Auburn’s downtown businesses, including retired Auburn University Art Professor Chichi Lovett.
“Auburn has a quality of being very real and very kind,” Lovett said. “What these events do is bring people together and people enjoy each other ... When you don’t live in a small town, you realize how valuable that is.”
Lovett, who had visited only four of the stops at the time, said she hoped there would be even more participating businesses and tents at next year’s event.
Hot dogs and t-shirts were being sold at a tent outside of Stamp where the store’s owner and current president of the Downtown Merchants Association Eric Stamp socialized and watched his grey and black dachshund, Annabelle.
“It’s a huge success. We started out building off of last year’s event and we knew it would be great so we planned to double the size of the event this year,” Stamp said. “We have a great downtown. The businesses are strong, it looks great, the city has done a ton of work making it look great, the restaurants are strong and our community wants to come down here ... so when we have an event, the people come out and they’re ready.”
Downtown Coordinator of the Merchants Association Jessica Kohn could be seen either taking pictures around the event, promoting Auburn’s downtown or working the ticket stand with a group of volunteers all dressed in orange and blue Cheers on the Corner t-shirts.
“The event has exceeded my expectations, and a lot of people have stopped me and flagged me down just to tell me how much fun they’re having and how great of an event this is,” Kohn said.
Based on pre-ordered tickets as well as the amount of tickets they sold the day of, Kohn said the Downtown Merchants Association sold approximately 900 of the 1,000 available tickets and raised close to $12,000.
“So many people want to see more events in downtown Auburn and the proceeds that we get from this event will allow us to have future events, so that’s what I wanted," Kohn said. "This is a success."
Despite the overall success of this year’s Cheers on the Corner, an incident that involved Auburn police occurred around 8:30 p.m. when a black Toyota SUV allegedly drove past barricades on North College Street headed towards Toomer’s Corner.
The driver was a young man without a shirt who, after performing a sobriety test in front of police and gathering onlookers, was handcuffed and escorted away in a police vehicle.
Auburn police declined to comment on the incident.