WEST ORANGE, NJ — The Downtown West Orange Alliance’s first annual Downtown Discovery Club, held in conjunction with help local downtown businesses this summer, comes to an end on Aug. 25.

Downtown Thursdays will conclude with a “shopping and eating till you drop” event in the Valley. The Downtown West Orange Alliance invites residents of West Orange and surrounding areas to shop at Clothes Minded, located at 483 Valley Rd., and grab take out or eat in at Don Juan Bar and Restaurant, located at 55 Kingsley St.

Don Juan’s is offering lunch specials, happy hour drink specials and dinner specials. Other locations offering specials through the weekend include Oak Barrel Restaurant, ICYUEnvy clothing boutique and City Workshop Men Supply Company, all located on Main Street.

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“We tried something new with the creation of Downtown Thursday’s and were very excited with the participation, as we showcased the four sections of our downtown,” said Downtown West Orange Alliance Executive Director Megan Brill. “We highlighted some of our very best businesses in the corridor and enjoyed good music and free family fun together.”

The Downtown Discovery Club, intended for children ages 4 to 12, is simple and interactive program aiming to have both children and their families discover downtown West Orange.

Participating children were given a lanyard with a Downtown Discovery Club guide attached at the end in order for them to complete the many activities corresponding with business downtown and receive a prize. However, participating parents also discovered businesses they hadn’t known existed previously, which was one of the event’s goals—to highlight downtown businesses and all that they have to offer.

“It was an excellent program they did—my grandchildren really enjoyed doing it and it was a nice experience for them, but I also found a few businesses that I didn’t know existed,” said participating resident Linda Kotchkoski. “I was really impressed by how many businesses are in town that I didn’t even know were there. Some of them are hidden away or are things that I would have never thought to go to, but now I know them.”

Kotchkoski’s four-year-old and seven-year-old grandchildren both received all the pens designed to capture the essence of each participating business, completing the Discovery Club activities and receiving prizes at an Awards Party on Aug. 23 at the Stone Depot. Participating children were also eligible to enter into a raffle for a chance to win one of three grand prizes.

Activities ranged from hands-on experiences like drawing a picture or cooking a favorite snack, to being active, such as having races with friends or going on walks with family. In Kotchkoski’s case, her grandchildren were most enthusiastic about the discovery of LyricPAC, a new performing arts center in town that they hope to join in the fall.

Coming this fall, according to Brill, the Downtown Alliance will continue to highlight the Main Street corridor with special offers on Thursdays from local businesses.

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