Portland's First Friday Art Walk rolls out 2 firsts

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PORTLAND — Congress Street was a gridlock of pedestrian traffic on Friday night for a “special holiday edition” of the First Friday Art Walk.

For the first time in its history, the monthly arts district open house featured a temporary pedestrian mall between State and Brown streets, with Congress Street closed to vehicles for two hours.

The holiday edition of First Friday also featured another first: a showcase of street performances called Circus in the Streets, organized by the Circus Conservatory of America.

The showcase featured acts Circus Atlantic, Gym Dandies, Celebration Barn Theater and The Red Trouser Show, for two, hour-long shows at the intersection of Park and Congress streets. Hundreds of tightly packed onlookers watched fire juggling, acrobatic feats and more.

The conservatory is planning to build an accredited college for performing arts at Thompson’s Point, but the opening date is unknown, according to its website.

Ben McCanna can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or bmccanna@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @BenMcCanna.

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Performers from The Red Trouser Show entertain the crowd during Circus in the Streets at the intersection of Park and Congress streets on First Friday. The show, which featured several acts, was organized by the Circus Conservatory of America .

Portland resident Nathaniel Doro studies a sculpture at Think Tank during First Friday.

Jugglers entertain the crowd during First Friday.

David Cray, aka Satan Claus (sic), smokes a cigarette while beckoning the crowd to view his art show at Geno’s Rock Club during First Friday.

First Friday volunteer Tookie Bright, of Auburn, directs pedestrian traffic at the intersection of Congress and High streets. For two hours Friday night, Congress Street was closed to vehicles from State Street to Brown Street.

Pedestrians roll a free-range sculpture down the center of Congress Street during First Friday.

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