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United Way hosts event raising Gator chomps and issue awareness


Before every home football game, The United Way of North Central Florida hosts a free festival named United Downtown. The event, located in downtown Gainesville is complete with games, food and live music.

“The overall goal is to increase awareness about our community, the issues in our community and the ways that people can give, advocate and volunteer through United Way to support our community,” said Debbie Mason, President and CEO of the United Way chapter.

Mason describes the free event as part fall festival, part street fair and part pep rally.

The festival provides, Mason said, fun for children and adults, locals and visitors.

“We have great attendance between tourists that are in town just for the game and we have great attendance from local people as well,” she said.

O2BKids hosts a “Kids Korner” with educational and interactive activities, as well as facepainting.

For adults, there is a beer garden, food vendors and live music.

Local issues within the community are featured to provide awareness, in addition to celebrating downtown Gainesville and creating a tradition of family fun.

“This week we’re asking people to bring food because the food pantries are really bare and United Way is really committed to making sure we take care of the community,” she said.

But not only do nonprofits benefit, but the community as a whole does as the event allows some foot traffic and for people to stop into local downtown shops and restaurants.

This week’s event is Friday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Bo Diddley Plaza and the surrounding streets. New age rock ‘n’ roll artists the Relics and Anna Marie and Friends are to perform.

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