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Live right in the middle of everything – shopping, dining, entertainment, the arts, the river. Downtown offers a unique lifestyle, vibrant culture and a world of opportunities right out your front door.

The Downtown Norfolk Council serves as the leading advocate for Downtown Norfolk and ensures Downtown’s position as the thriving and essential cultural, commercial and residential hub of Hampton Roads.

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10 Things You Probably Don't Know that Downtown Norfolk Council Does

We often hear “Oh wow, Downtown does that?” And the answer is almost always “Yes.”

But even for our biggest fans,we bet you don't know everything we do. Here are 10 of our programs and initiatives that may surprise you.

1. Arch Lights

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The arched lighting over Granby Street from Main Street to Virginia Beach Boulevard was a project conceived and funded entirely by DNC and the property owners in Downtown through the DID tax.

2. F.R.E.D.

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The Free Ride Every Day, or F.R.E.D. is a teal, low speed, electric vehicle that is an on-demand service for anyone downtown. Manned by DNC ambassadors, F.R.E.D. rides around picking people up and dropping them off, and he is at your service; just call 757-478-7233.

3. We Pick Up a LOT of Trash

All the black trashcans you see on downtown corners are ours. We empty them every day, as well as pick up any litter you see on downtown sidewalks. Yep, even cigarette butts and dog poop (although it goes without saying, we rather you picked up after your pets).

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4. Selden Market

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That's right, Selden Market is a Downtown Norfolk Council project. We rent a portion of the Selden Arcade so we can lease it to small business owners who are just breaking into retail or restaurants. We recruit the tenants, mentor them, hold events, and of course, shop and eat there a lot.

5. Art, So Much Art

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About 85% of the murals and other art pieces in the NEON District were solicited and paid for by DNC. Through a public art committee made up of lots of local artists and arts organizations, we've hosted open calls, painted stuff, partnered with business owners and raised money to bring an amazing collection of street art to Downtown Norfolk.

6. The NEON Festival

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Coming up on the 5th Annual NEON Festival, each year the DNC produces the two day festival in the NEON district with hundreds of participants, volunteers, artists and partners. It's our time to celebrate with the community the visual and performing arts regularly on display in NEON.

7. First Fridays

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That's us, too. Now going in itsseventh season, First Fridays started as a way to bring lots of people to downtown restaurants and it's just kept growing. It never gets old, standing in the middle of Granby Street under the lights, drinking a cold one with your best downtown buddies.

8. Grand Illumination Parade

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Definitely the biggest and most festive thing DNC puts on for you, the Grand Illumination Parade kicks off the holiday season each year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. It's two miles of pure holiday joy for more than 80,000 parade watchers, with Santa, dancers, bands, floats and way, way more.

9. Spreading the Word About Downtown

We're the man behind the curtain when it comes to marketing, sharing, promoting, loving and boosting all things Downtown. DNC produces an annual guide and map (some might call it the bible to Downtown), has a gigantic website with any kind of information you might need, fills your feed with essential and fun Downtown tidbits, and generally shows how amazing downtown is regularly.

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10. DNC is the Downtown Champion

For visitors, for residents, for the small business owner, for the office workers, for the students – everything we do is to make Downtown cleaner, prettier, friendlier, safer and better for business. We work hard, listen and advocate for Downtown as Norfolk's vital center over and over again.

But you can help us! If you love Downtown, join a committee, go to the civic league, sign up for all our email news, go to public meetings, read the news, take surveys, shop local, ride your bike, takethe Tide, or just come visit us!

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