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ALBANY: 1st Fridays are for fun

The Albany Institute of History and Art, which normally attracts more than 200 people to its 1st Friday event, offers live music, food and wine tasting stations and several exclusive exhibits.

Christine Miles, executive director of AIHA, thinks the event places Albany in a very positive light.

"I've heard really positive remarks from people from the suburbs who said they had no idea the architecture was so beautiful in Albany," she said." "I think it's really creating a very dynamic environment, and I think it's fostering a lot of civic pride."

Aside from the large museums, there are also a slew of smaller venues and galleries that have exhibits on 1st Friday, such as the Schuyler Mansion which features more traditional art, The Albany Center Gallery, Capitol Repertory Theatre, Elda's On Lark, Envy Lounge, Red Square and Fuze Box.

For the late-night crowd, the event can continue into the wee hours with After First Friday, a musical event sponsored by the Barn, a nonprofit organization that advocates creative arts in Albany. The Lark Tavern, Red Square, Skyline, and Justin's on Lark all participate in After 1st Friday.

John DeJohn, owner of Justin's On Lark, believes that a successful and high profile event like 1st Friday ultimately keeps people out of trouble.

"The more foot traffic you have, the less crime there is, and the quality of life issues tend to get better with an event like this," DeJohn said.

With the warmer weather bringing more people out to the streets, Weidrich anticipates a larger and more diverse crowd in upcoming months.

"I've seen 6-week-old babies to 80-year-old grandmothers," he said. "The spectrum is just becoming huge."

For information, including a map, about the next 1st Friday scheduled for Friday, June 1, visit www.1stfridayalbany.org. ""

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