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Mid-Week Event Boasts Face-lift

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A new take on an old idea could inspire throngs of downtown professionals to spill from work and flood the canal area, especially for a few hours on Wednesdays. What heretofore was Wednesdays on the Waterfront this spring becomes Midweek Mojo.

The makeover is a joint effort of City Celebrations, Richmond River District and Riverfront Management Corp. to spruce up an event that had shown potential but had become somewhat bland.

Since it was launched five years ago to bring people to the budding Turning Basin, the hit-or-miss gig has cost the city and the nonprofit organizers money. So it's been difficult to gauge its success, officials say.

Consequently, a high-style transformation is in the works.

In case you haven't guessed, the name — Midweek Mojo — is derived from Mike Myers' Austin Powers.

"It's kind of like an attitude — whether it's sexiness, power or luck," explains Robert Fleskes, director of marketing for City Celebrations, formerly Downtown Presents. "What we're following is the history of mojo as actual currency," he says.

Beer tickets, for instance, will be replaced by "mojos," or faux-gold coins that can be used to purchase drinks and food. Eventually, organizers hope to convince neighboring business like the Martin Agency and First Market Bank to purchase books of mojos for employees as "incentives," Fleskes says.

The event also will be more of a "happy-hour after-work kind of thing," he says, with less emphasis on music. Although musicians like Susan Greenbaum and Kyle Davis still will take the stage — perhaps from a barge in the river — "full-fledged concerts with speakers" aren't part of the lineup.

The event doesn't set out to be a Friday Cheers. Instead, the goal is to cultivate a place where people want to go for a spell before going home. For most, Fleskes says, keeping early hours on Wednesdays is important because "it's still a school night."

Restaurants near the Turning Basin such as Sin é, Europa and the Tobacco Company will take turns preparing and offering food samplings as a hopeful attempt to draw dinner crowds when the mojo runs out. In addition to beer and wine, a martini bar run by the Capital Club will provide more concentrated, or at least trendy, libations.

Midweek Mojo is free and takes place at the Turning Basin on Wednesdays from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. starting May 5 and running through June.

— Brandon

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