Downtown Flowery Branch will turn into the Death Star for one night this year. A little later it’ll be transfigured into a slice of Hogwarts (or maybe Diagon Alley), and of course Main Street will once again spend a night as Stars Hollow this fall.
Block parties are coming back to Flowery Branch beginning in June, and the organizers have a series of monthly events that build on the 2018 parties. A “Gilmore Girls” party is coming back for a second round in October this year along with a “Polar Express” night in December.
Out of this World Star Wars Party
What: First of a series of downtown parties in South Hall
When: 6:30-10 p.m. June 21
Where: Main Street, Flowery Branch
More info: www.branchblockparty.com
How much: Free to attend
But there are a few new features slated for the summer: An “Out of the World Star Wars Party” is coming June 21 — officially the first day of summer — and “Hogwarts on Main Street” is set for Sept. 20.
“Flowery Branch is going through a big downtown redevelopment,” said Stacey Dickson, president of the Lake Lanier Convention and Visitors Bureau, which organizes the events. Proposals for new subdivisions and apartment complexes are popping up every month, she added.
One of the most significant projects on Main Street is a mixed-use development from Atlanta-based firm The Residential Group, which is pursuing an apartment project in the city at the same time.
As the city adjusts to plans to remake significant portions of downtown and signs of a large population increase down the road, the CVB found an appetite among those in Flowery Branch for some events to make the small town’s public space feel a bit more like home.
“Our South Hall communities in particular needed to be creating a sense of place and events that were friendly to visitors and also somewhere for locals — and prospective locals — to gather,” Dickson said.
The events have been a win for Main Street businesses, including Flowery Branch’s fine-dining restaurant, Antebellum.
As the parties have grown from attracting several hundred people at their start in 2018 to several thousand, Antebellum found its patio and bar filling up with customers dropping in during the events at the reservations-recommended restaurant.
The turnout for the parties has been “insane,” said Nicole Hohman, who handles marketing for Antebellum.
“It’s great, and it’s great for the city as well,” she said. “They did the ‘Gilmore Girls’ one last year, and that brought people from out of town. That’s probably been the busiest one yet.”
The ‘Gilmore Girls’ party was a special project not just for the CVB, but Waldorf & Wonder owner, and a superfan of the show, LaSha Ackerman.
"For a lot of ‘Gilmore Girls’ fans it’s a bit of a dream-come-true to help turn your town into Stars Hollow for a day," Ackerman told The Times in 2018. “There are so many similarities between downtown Flowery Branch and this fictional town. It actually takes very little creative effort to sort of nudge it into that fictional town."
As the events grew more popular last year, the folks at Antebellum began setting up a tent and bar on its lawn with a bartender mixing one craft cocktail each night and serving beer, wine and generic mixed drinks.
The bar is coming back for the events this year. In 2018, Flowery Branch created its own downtown dining district similar to the district created in Gainesville; both areas allow people to carry open containers of alcohol with a few restrictions.
Along with the brick-and-mortar shops on Main Street, food trucks and other vendors will be on site for each event.
Parties are set every month through December, excluding November:
June 21: Out of this World Star Wars Party
July 19: Beach Blanket Bingo
Aug. 2: Pep Rally Party
Sept. 20: Hogwarts on Main Street
Oct 18: Gilmore Girls Fan Event
Dec: 2: All Aboard Christmas Fun