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Our View: Join the Flourish fun in West End

Driving around town, you’ll find remnants of long-forgotten commercial activity in many neighborhoods, such as corner groceries and other stores that have evolved into residential space, as most commercial activity moved downtown or to the Minnesota Highway 33 corridor over the years.

The West End of Cloquet is one of those sites. Once the thriving center of Cloquet, it held the City Hall, police station, and many of the most important businesses in town. The original town square was in the West End. So was the train station, and the town’s movie theater. But after Highway 33 sliced through town, the West End morphed into empty storefronts and declining buildings.

But it never lost its charm, and in recent years the west end has seen some signs of revitalization. The Chief Theater has been converted into a coffee house and a busy ministry; a fancy restaurant opened in the First National Bank building that attracted huge crowds before closing down, proving the area can attract clientele; and there’s been some storefront renovations and improvements. The neighborhood’s old-world charm is one of the reasons we decided to open our newspaper office there, in the same building that housed the Pine Knot 70 years ago. And, we’ve seen other neighbors move in, too, in the past few years. You might say that the West End is ready to flourish.

This Saturday, there’s a block-party-style celebration of the revitalization initiative called the West End Flourish. The festivities are the brainchild of our own Ivan Hohnstadt, advertising manager of the Pine Knot News, and will show off the neighborhood and showcase the artists, musicians, crafters and history of Cloquet’s original downtown. The event runs 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. along Avenue C, and spills over into Wentworth Park and along Vine Street and Avenue B, which will all be closed to vehicle traffic. There will be plenty of booths, activities, music and food trucks offering a variety of fare.

We applaud this type of activity, even if our applause is somewhat self-congratulatory, because we believe in our neighborhood and we cherish the historical significance of the area. Major events like this West End Flourish gathering invite the entire town and region to celebrate a unique neighborhood and encourages redevelopment, which benefits the whole area. It’s a truly family-friendly event and, from the feedback we’ve received so far, we expect big crowds.

It’s going to be a great party, and we hope to see you there.

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