Plaza District celebrates rebirth by growing annual event

ng as the economy is pulling out of this slump it has been in, it will make the district stronger, because people will be rethinking their careers and pursuing them down here."

Kristen Vails took the job of executive director of the Plaza District Association last year just before the previous festival. She said that the event had been more of a neighborhood block party. To help draw in more people, Vails is working to highlight more youth-oriented elements of the festival, such as a collaborative fashion show between DNA Gallery and Collected Thread at 3:30 p.m., and live music featuring New York Summer, Junebug Spade, The Pretty Black Chains and Hundredsomethings playing on the outdoor stage starting at 7 p.m.

Vails hopes to double the crowd from last year, and after seeing the success of Live on the Plaza on the second Friday of every month, she believes that the Plaza's unique character is becoming a stronger draw.

"There is a community atmosphere in the Plaza District. We are all just so tight-knit," she said. "The Paseo Festival also has art and music, but we are going to focus on more neighborhood activities for the kids. We are here for the neighborhood and for the people, too, so people from the surrounding neighborhoods can come down and have fun as well."

Paula and Company Realtors, 1706 N.W. 16th, is one of the businesses that moved in during the Plaza's revival, and will be providing activities for children during the festival. Associate Mai Cao said that going from a high-rise to a storefront helped the atmosphere of the office.

"The big window in the front of our office is like a big fishbowl. We see people walking around from different generations, different cultures," Cao said. "The community here is just much warmer than the corporate environment that we came from. People are more involved in developing the neighborhoods."

Because of that communal spirit, niche shops like Collected Thread or the vegetarian and gluten-free Coffy's Caf

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