DDD hosts ‘Name Our Event’ contest with promise of an upcoming intimate, downtown event

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DDD was created in 1986. Since becoming Executive Director, Chelsea Tallo has led events like Hot August Night with the help of the community.  Larshell Green/The Lion’s Roar

The Downtown Development District has decided to create an intimate event in order to showcase artists and local businesses. There’s only one thing missing: a name for the event. DDD decided to hold a contest called Name Our New Event which ended on Mar. 31. 

The new event will officially begin on May 18 and will continue on the third Thursday of every month. Participating shops and businesses will offer extended hours and specials for participants until 9 p.m. The Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts will also participate and showcase performances by artists. 

Executive Director of the Downtown Development District Chelsea Tallo admits that the idea for the contest came from not finding a name that was loved during one of the monthly merchant meetings.

“While we had a few suggestions, nothing really stuck,” said Tallo. “You can’t have an outstanding event without an outstanding name. I think one of the business owners suggested holding a contest and then others proceeded to offer prizes to the winner and it took off from there. I think the contest is a great idea. It engages the public and makes them feel connected to the event before it even starts.”

Tallo explains that minimal planning was required for the creation of the event because of the interest and initiative of local retail stores.

“I met with Cassie Ragan, owner of Ruby, and her employee Becky Mannino,” said Tallo. “Becky had a whole plan written out and made it really easy for us to implement.”

Budgeting for the event was mainly centered around advertising which mostly took place on social media. Music that will be heard throughout the event will be done on a volunteer basis. 

DDD is no stranger to holding events that showcase local businesses and the local art community like Hot August Night. Tallo explains that the event will be more intimate than Hot August Night which she describes as a big Downtown party.

“This event is more focused on just the businesses,” said Tallo. “We won’t be doing a wine walk, closing off any of the streets or having any stages. While we will have musical artists in the stores and on the street corners, it will have a different feel. One similarity I would say is, like Hot August Night, the stores open up and offer one-night specials and cocktails. This is no different. All our participating retail stores will be open with specials you can only receive every third Thursday of the month and some will be offering you a glass of champagne or two while you shop.”

Tallo said that for some events like Hot August Night, DDD books a band and hosts a wine tasting. DDD relies on the community to set up other attractions. 

“It’s the community that does the rest,” said Tallo. “SLU hosts a pep rally, restaurants and bars team up to host more live music, Louisiana Children’s Discovery Center hosts the kid zone, non-profits set up vendor booths, local schools volunteer, the city workers, the Police Department and Fire Department all do their part as well. DDD events are no one-man show, I can tell you that. Without the involvement and support of the community we wouldn’t have the events we do today. Our parish truly is blessed to have such an involved and active community.”

To enter the Name Our Event Contest, participants were required to like the Downtown Hammond Facebook page, share their post and then comment the desired title on the same post. Participants were eligible to enter as many titles as preferred. 

The winner of the Name Our Event contest was Kristina McBride, a Tutor Coordinator with Student Support Services at the university. McBride came up with the name Downtown Sundown and will receive a gift basket of goodies from local Downtown businesses for her contribution. 

McBride explained that she chose the title based on the feel that DDD hoped to have for the event, a party that patrons do not want to leave. Her additions were also based on her love of words.

 “I entered the contest because I love words and playing with puns, rhyme and alliteration,” said McBride. “I really wasn’t expecting to win, but had fun coming up with different titles for the event.”

Tallo explained why McBride’s entry was selected. 

“We picked the name because it portrayed everything we wanted it to say,” said Tallo. “People know it’s Downtown and it sounds like an afternoon event using the word sundown, plus it’s catchy.”

Tallo explained how imperative community involvement is to the success of events. 

“Without the community, there would be no events,” said Tallo. “Yes of course, I could set up a band in a parking lot, but it’s the community that comes out to support it. All our events are community based. I’m not just referencing the public community that comes out to support the events, but it’s the community that really takes the events and makes them more successful.”

Chelsea Tallo became DDD’s Executive Director in July 2016.
Larshell Green/The Lion’s Roar