The calendar may indicate that summer’s more than a month away, and we still have a week to go until Memorial Day. But it’s summer in the Queen City as of 5 p.m. today, when the 2006 Friday After Five concert series kicks off on the downtown mall.

Over the next several months, well into fall, more than 100 musical events will take place in Cumberland, including the Town Centre Friday events, and concerts at Canal Place and Constitution Park.

“We are still an event-driven town, and there will be a lot of new entertainment and sponsors,” said Ed Mullaney, the Downtown Development Commission’s energetic co-director.

The signature event in Cumberland’s summer musical lineup is the Friday After Five concert series, which has grown into a true community celebration. Hundreds gather on the brick-lined pedestrian mall to celebrate the end of the work week and listen to a variety of musical groups, with up to three acts slated each week. Downtown restaurants set up outside dining areas for the event, allowing folks to enjoy food and drink during the performances.

Businesses help offset the concert expenses through sponsorships, providing for a wide variety of performances. Sponsors are to be commended for supporting the concerts.

More than just a great time and a nice way to close the week, Friday After Five speaks to the renaissance of downtown Cumberland, now the region’s premier community gathering place. With its diverse mix of restaurants, retail shops and art galleries, the mall is truly alive and thriving. And singing and dancing and celebrating, every Friday after 5 p.m.

It’s summer time in the Queen City. Come out and join the fun.

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