Art Alley Celebrates Grand Opening In Haines City With Food Trucks And Art
by James Coulter
Flags of many color hang fluttering from above. Two pink flamingos stand together facing a sunset in a mural sketched on a brick wall. Several other chalk drawings and messages are scrawled right next to it.
These are some of the sights you can see when you take a stroll in Downtown Haines City and turn a corner into an alleyway along Main Street. Of course, you’ll most likely be lured there by the smell of food wafting from the food trucks parked nearby.
Located at 501 E Main Street in Downtown Haines City, directly behind Citrus Growers Commerce Bank, “Art Alley” is the city’s newest initiative to draw in residents downtown with art and food trucks.
This little space, tucked away in the alley and lot behind the bank, serves as a vibrant outdoor venue for local artists to showcase their craft through murals and other art installations.
Every three to four months, Art Alley showcases a different art installation and theme. When the venue was opened earlier this year, it featured umbrellas hanging from clotheslines above the alley, along with a statue of a red man with an umbrella sitting on a nearby bench.
Their current art installation includes flags hanging from above and mural of a Florida Sunset with pink flamingos. Their next installation will feature ribbons and children’s flags.
From Thursday to Sunday, different food trucks park from lunch to the late evening serving various food offerings, ranging from Buffalo Chicken Fries from the Purple People Eatery to ArtisanPopsicles from Lula Paleta.
Art Alley celebrated its grand opening last Friday evening with a ribbon cutting ceremony hosted by the Northeast Polk Chamber of Commerce.
Janes Addams Water, Project Manager for the Haines City’s Community Redevelopment Agency, mentioned how she wanted the space to aid in the city’s historic revitalization and draw people from all over the city and county.
“We are planning to move forward for this to be an arts destination,” Waters said. “The idea is to take a little pocket within the city that goes unnoticed and turn it into something vibrant that people can come to and enjoy.”
Waters was especially excited to see so many people of the local community gather together (while maintaining social distancing) to appreciate this new area, the art displayed within it, and the food served from the food trucks. She hopes that the area continues to grow in popularity and becomes a staple of the community.
She mentioned how she has already received phone calls from local residents expressing their love and interest in Art Alley. She even saw a family earlier that day taking group photographs there.
“I love to see the community excited about something new in their community, and they really are,” she said. “My expectation is to see it grow in popularity. I anticipate it seeing visitors from out of town for art shows or marketplace shows.”
Oscar Pineda and Ellie Abarado own the property where Art Alley now resides. When they were approached about the initiative, they were more than happy for it to move forward.
“This park is a benefit for the alley, it is a benefit for the whole community,” Pineda said. “This is something for our community, not only Haines City. We need it at this time, and that is why we back this project.”
Abarado considered the initiative a blessing for her local community, allowing them to come together to enjoy good art, music, and food. She wishes only the best for it.
“This project was good for us here,” she said. “Everybody here is a blessing, and this is a good thing for the community, for a beautiful city like Haines City and Polk County, because we welcome everyone from everywhere.”