It’s Feature Friday! It is also the first Friday of the month, so who better to feature than First Friday and part of its committee?! Check out our interview with Stephania Riccitelli, the event coordinator of First Friday PK.

Are the committee members from the area originally? If not, what drew you to Poughkeepsie?
 Most of our committee members are natives to the Poughkeepsie area, with families living here for generations. We do have others, like myself, who are not local to Poughkeepsie, but are to the Hudson Valley and have become drawn to the development and revitalization the City continuously displays.
Can you tell us a bit about First Friday? How did it start? What is your favorite part of coordinating it?
First Friday Poughkeepsie is a monthly city-wide celebration from May thru October in neighborhoods throughout the City of Poughkeepsie. Referred to as a “movement” for the City, it features local food, art, and music, while highlighting the City as an attractive place to live, work and play.  It started back in 2016 as an idea from Mayor Rob Rolison as a promotion for local establishments, which then grabbed the attention of our Founding Sponsors Rhinebeck Bank and R.L Baxter Building Corporation, who developed the current committee and has since evolved it into a community movement like no other.
Speaking on behalf of the whole committee, I confidently think one of everyone’s favorite parts of the whole process of the event is that moment, that peak 6:45pm timish when you just stop and breathe for a second and look at the crowd, and witness all the members of the community interacting with one another, having a blast and you just feel the positive impact you are making. It’s a satisfaction very hard to come by and it makes every second of that whole prior month’s hard work, running around, and sometimes chaos… it just makes it feel so worth it and more.
Are there any new projects you are currently working on that you would like to share about?
One of the best things about this committee is we all  always have something we are working on. We are all truly invested in the community and use each other’s strengths within our committee to collaborate outside on independent projects. Just a couple upcoming examples: Michelle Barone-Lepore is emceeing a Revel 32  live concert featuring local musicians and businesses to benefit Grace Smith House. The FoodStock Fund, which helps feed local families, is working on a viral concert this month run by committee members Ryan Michael and Lorenze Angelino.
As for myself, while I do work on other local projects outside of First Friday Poughkeepsie- this initiative has taken the front seat for me. Working with our team on how to pivot our movement during the current times, grow the events exposure and presence and really utilize this amazing foundation that we’ve created to benefit our community and City outside an event once a month.  I truly believe this is just the starting point on potential we haven’t even discovered yet.
Where is your favorite place in Poughkeepsie?
Wherever First Friday Poughkeepsie is that month 🙂
What do you like to do for fun in Poughkeepsie?
The best part of this City is there is always something happening.  From enjoying the different local restaurants, art shows, community events,etc. We all like to enjoy what news things are offered on the regular and be a part of positive environments.
What is your hope for the future for yourself and Poughkeepsie?
Collectively, our hope is that Poughkeepsie continues to develop and prosper as it has prior to this pandemic. By example, I think we can be a leader to other cities and represent that through collaboration, positivity, and community support,  we make strides of growth and progress every day.
And if there is anything else you would like to add about your story, please do!
One of the most important things I think we would all want our community to know, especially right now- is First Friday Poughkeepsie is truly more than an event. Don’t get us wrong, we LOVE the events, the atmosphere, and the fun it brings each month and we are missing it so much right now and CAN’T WAIT to be back out there with everyone. But, it’s so much more than that. It’s highlighting our city for how incredible it is. It’s showing support for our businesses, our artists, musicians, and each other. It’s a representation that our City stands out because its stands together. 
Like I  always say, “It takes a community to make a community better.”

Thank you Stephania, and the entire First Friday committee for bringing an awesome event like First Friday to the city. We can’t wait to be able to go to the next event!