Helper’s Main Street was the place to be on Friday evening as the inaugural First Friday celebration for 2022 was underway. Members of the community flocked to Main Street to support the event and enjoy the festivities.
The evening began with a ribbon cutting ceremony at Aunt Nell’s Soda Fountain and Gift. The business is owned and operated by Becky Driggs, who cut the ceremonial ribbon. Community members were welcomed into the shop to browse a variety of gifts and enjoy a treat to kick off the First Friday festivities.
Just down the road, KT Gallery also celebrated its grand opening. Located at 76 South Main Street, the gallery features the artwork of Karen Jobe Templeton. First Friday attendees were invited into the gallery to browse and speak with the artist herself.
April’s event also served as a tribute to Thomas Elmo Williams, an iconic Helper artist who passed away on March 23. At the age of 65, Williams succumbed to Lou Gehrig’s Disease, an illness that he battled for three years.
“Helper has lost a great one,” Helper resident Melissa Montoya Rogers stated following his passing. “The world is one less of a path maker, storyteller, artist, coal miner, mentor, friend, partner and a kind soul that can never be replaced in our hearts or in our lives.”
Days before his passing, Williams expressed interest in hosting a candlelight vigil and raising funds for those in Ukraine. Members of the Helper community ensured this came to fruition, hosting a candlelight vigil on Friday evening in honor of those in Ukraine. Attendees gathered at Balance Rock and traveled to the Main Street Park, with tributes to Williams established at both locations.
Sunflowers and yellow candles could be seen throughout the evening on Main Street, paying tribute to the lost artist and those suffering in Ukraine. Members of the community were invited to give monetary donations during First Friday, all of which will be donated to the people of Ukraine.