Inaugural Phoenix 4th Friday brings together Elon, Burlington communities

The street festival was a collaboration between Elon University, the Burlington Downtown Corporation, the City of Burlington and local nonprofits and businesses.

Friday night of Family Weekend brought hundreds of Elon students, families, faculty and staff to downtown Burlington for the Inaugural Phoenix 4th Friday street festival.

Phoenix 4th Friday was a collaboration between Elon University, the Burlington Downtown Corporation, the City of Burlington and local nonprofits and businesses. The festival was part of the Burlington Department of Parks and Recreation’s 4th Friday series, which invites the community to downtown Burlington for music, food and fun, on the fourth Friday of every month, typically from May to August.

A crowd gathers at Burlington’s Historic Depot for Phoenix 4th Friday.

This year, the City of Burlington and the university worked together to add a fifth event to the series to bring Elon students, faculty and staff together with members of the local community.

“We have commitment already in the community by our students volunteering, working and interning, we have just not had an experience that would bring together the masses like this,” said Tammy Cobb, associate director of the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement at Elon.

Cobb and other members of the Elon community worked with Burlington leaders to organize Phoenix 4th Friday, which attracted the event’s largest crowd of the series to Burlington’s Historic Depot Friday night.

“It’s so much fun to have this many people in downtown Burlington,” said Emily Crowley, supervisor of special events for Burlington Parks and Recreation. “We’re so excited to be partnering with Elon tonight and having a different crowd down here, allowing people to experience what Burlington has to offer.”

Love & Valor, which includes Hannah Strickland ’21 and Charlie Perschau ’18, performs in front of a crowd at Phoenix 4th Friday.

The event featured musical artists Love & Valor, which includes Hannah Strickland ’21 and Charlie Perschau ’18, as well as performances by Eliza Spear ’22 and the Jacob Danieley Band, led by Jacob Danieley ’11.

“It’s very happening,” said Jayna Cherny ’23, who was making her first visit to Burlington. “There’s a lot to do at the shops and restaurants, and the music is awesome. It’s nice to see all the things to do outside of campus.”

Cherny and other visitors were also introduced to local vendors like Smitty’s Ice Cream and Pelican’s SnoBalls, as well as community and university organizations like Alamance Citizens for Education, Elon Volunteers! and Elon’s “It Takes a Village” Project.

Members of the Elon men’s basketball team take a photo with a fan.

Visitors also had the opportunity to meet members of Elon’s athletics programs. Friday, the men’s basketball team, cheerleaders, tennis, golf and women’s soccer teams made appearances at Phoenix 4th Friday to spend time with their fans.

“It’s very important for the community to identify and to be able to touch and feel our student-athletes,” said Don Scott, director of marketing and fan engagement for Elon Athletics. “For our student-athletes to be able to come out here and to put a name to the face in the community is unbelievably important for us.”

Overall, Friday’s event was an enlightening experience Justine Hurst ’23, who said, “I think tonight’s event is pretty important because you want to make sure to keep expanding your world, and I think it’s nice to visit new places while you’re in college.”

Organizers hope Friday’s event was just the beginning of a long tradition in

An Elon Family Weekend t-shirt spotted at Phoenix 4th Friday in Burlington.

downtown Burlington.

“It’s so important, especially as Elon and Burlington both continue to grow, the relationship really benefits both parties,” Crowley said. “It’s so important that the two communities mesh and for people to understand that what we have here to offer is for everyone, not just Burlington residents.”

And, as she looked around at the crowd of Elon and Burlington community members Friday, Cobb said, “I am delighted. There is not a better feeling than to see a community come together.”