Last Thursday began as a monthly arts walk on Alberta Street in Portland in 1997. Since then it has ballooned into a large event that is either a lot of fun, or a serious nuisance, depending on your perspective.
According to the King Neighborhood Association, the event sometimes sees as many as 15,000 attendees. But unlike similar events, Last Thursday doesn’t have an organizing body, and it doesn’t have permits or pay for itself. The cost of Last Thursday falls completely to the city, which spent $30,000 on it last year over $112,000 on the event between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011. There have also been complaints of illegal alcohol consumption, public urination, vandalism and parking problems.
Despite criticism of Last Thursday, all it takes is a visit to the event to see that there are many people enjoying it.
Yet, there’s little disagreement that Last Thursday needs to change. The future of the event is now in the hands of Friends of Last Thursday, an organization that the City of Portland hopes will be able to manage the event by next year. But much remains to be decided, and some are saying that the city is not progressing fast enough.
Have you attended Last Thursday or do you live near where it takes place? What do you like about it? What would you like to see change? How do you think the event can better meet the needs of attendees and neighbors?