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Newhall uses Senses to draw crowds

Businesses use monthly events with live music, food trucks, street performers to draw foot traffic

Posted: July 16, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: July 16, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Senses, the newest downtown Newhall event, transforms Main Street into a historic district with a nightlife vibe. Senses, the newest downtown Newhall event, transforms Main Street into a historic district with a nightlife vibe.
Senses, the newest downtown Newhall event, transforms Main Street into a historic district with a nightlife vibe.

Newhall businesses are seeing more shoppers and visitors to their pedestrian-friendly downtown area.
Events in the area have drawn at least 12,000 more people over the past six months, said Tim Crissman, chairman of the Old Town Newhall Association.

Events such as the farmers market, classic car show, Art Walk, Cinco de Mayo celebration and the new Thursday night “Senses” nightlife events are drawing increased foot traffic to downtown Newhall.

And merchants are hoping that increased traffic translates to increased business, as well. Some are already reporting gains as a result of the events.

The Roger Dunn golf store on Main Street is typically closed evenings during the Senses events, but all of the activities combined are attracting new customers as people discover the store, said David Mutschlet, Roger Dunn’s owner.

“It’s beautiful down here,” Mutschlet said. “A lot more people are coming to downtown Newhall.”
The newest monthly event debuted in June. Dubbed “Senses,” the event transforms Main Street into a tourist, historic district with a nightlife vibe.

The event name came from the vision of creating a vibrant downtown district where the activities elevate a visitor’s sense of sight, smell, touch, taste and sound.

“There’s a complete physical transformation in Newhall,” said Armine Chaparyan, redevelopment manager for the city. “We’re creating a nightlife scene.”

Held on the third Thursday of every month, many retailers are now staying open to meet and greet new customers during the evening celebration.

The themed nights feature live music, food trucks, street performers, art displays and more.

“The businesses down there are telling us that they love it,” said Jason Crawford, economic development and marketing manager with the city of Santa Clarita.
“Businesses are getting a lot more exposure to more people and customers,” he said. “And people are having a blast in downtown Newhall.”
Beach party
The next Senses event, which will take place July 21, features a beach-party theme. Visitors to the downtown area are invited to experience reggae music, play in the sand and “hang loose.” 

Swimsuits and flip-flops are encouraged for the next event. It features a Beyond the Beach fashion show, an inflatable surfboard ride and a chance to play on a Slip ’N Slide.

“The city is bringing in some sand,” said Bobbi Jean Bell, co-owner of OutWest Western Boutique on Main Street.

Businesses throughout the area are offering free goodies and special offers from local merchants, including Fresh, Canyon Theatre Guild, OutWest, El Trocadero, Pulchella Winery and Newhall Bicycle, to name a few.

Last month’s event attracted more than 1,000 people to the historic district.

More than half the population of the Santa Clarita probably doesn’t have a sense of history that Newhall is where local commerce originally began, Crissman said. 

“We revitalized an area that got left behind in the rapid growth,” he said.
The first event introduced to downtown Newhall was the weekly farmers market. Wanting to spice up the event this year, the Old Town Newhall Association brought in food trucks.

“We had over 3,000 people at the first event,” Crissman said. “It was a game-changer.”

The city saw the value of what had already been built and stepped in to help with events for the area. “Senses” is a city-sponsored event, he said.

“We’ve partnered on quite a few events,” Crissman said. “We see our collaboration really important to getting the community engaged.”

And according to the local businesses, the events are driving business up.

The Repertory East Playhouse opens for the Senses events, selling wine, beer and mixed drinks in its lobby. By opening its doors on nonshow nights, the theater has been able to sell additional play tickets to the street crowds.

“It’s been incredible,” said Ovington Michael Owston, co-artistic director of the playhouse.  “All the Thursday events have been really good for us.”

  For more information about Senses, visit or call (661) 250-3787. For more information about the Old Town Newhall Association visit


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