For many Elon University students, heading to the underdeveloped “downtown Elon” is a monotonous experience with weekly dinners to The Root Trackside or picking up a planner from “All That Jas,” thinking there isn’t much else to do.
But, “The Elon Scene,” a Facebook page that shares various events going on within walking distance of your dorm, is prepared to bring excitement to the greater Elon area.
Created by Phyllis Creech, director of Elon Recreation and Parks, “The Elon Scene’s” purpose is to reach students and the larger Elon community by promoting and featuring upcoming events.
When “The Elon Scene” was first created, two new parks had recently opened in town, and Creech wanted to spread the word to the Elon community. Additionally, many projects and events that take place in the area are heavily volunteer-based, so Creech wanted to highlight volunteer work and thank volunteers publicly through the Facebook group.
So far, “The Elon Scene” has received excellent feedback and has reached more than 1,000 likes on Facebook. One of the most popular posts shared on the page was an August article from an “Only in Your State” website that ranked Elon as No. 3 in a list of the “Safest and Most Peaceful Places to live in North Carolina.”
Through “The Elon Scene,” students can hear about upcoming volunteer opportunities.
A few miles beyond campus, students can head to Beth Schmidt Park and volunteer at “Halloween and Christmas in the Park,” held in October and December. Not only does “The Elon Scene” inform, but it also gives students the opportunity to get outside of their comfort zone and fully experience the town of Elon.
Most recently, the group has been promoting events such as “Alive After Five,” a summer concert series held in downtown Elon.
Sponsored by the Elon Recreation and Parks Department, as well as local stores and restaurants, the concert series brings year-round residents and the broader community to downtown Elon for a night of fun.
“Visitors and residents appreciate and enjoy the bands and love the feel of downtown Elon and its beauty,” Creech said.
Originally intended as a one-time music event held in May 2013, “Alive After Five” transformed into a summer concert series, promoting locals and students to shop and eat downtown while supporting and enjoying local musicians, such as Jive Mother Mary, a band based in Burlington.
Despite events sponsored and promoted through “The Elon Scene,” not all Elon students can find the time to attend local events.
Junior Ashley Bohle said she liked the page, but between Leadership Fellows, her involvement with Elon Local News and her 18-credit course load, she cannot always find the time to attend downtown Elon events.
“With so many things to try each day at Elon, I like to stick to some norms when I can, like going to see a new movie or going out to dinner with close friends,” she said.
Bohle added she doesn’t see that many Elon events occurring during the school year, other than the occasional downtown farmer’s market in the spring and summer. Compared to college towns like Ann Arbor, Michigan or Bloomington, Indiana with a variety of restaurants and shops within walking distance, downtown Elon can feel fairly empty, leaving students to rely on transportation like a car or the BioBus to get off campus.
“The Elon Scene” is just a small part of something much bigger in the works for downtown scene of Elon.
In January 2014, a “Downtown Elon Master Plan” was published by the Town of Elon, it was essentially a vision for the future of downtown Elon. Its eventual goal is to build up the town because of a mutual agreement by town residents and students that there is no “downtown Elon.”
According to the plan, the vision is to “develop a powerful community based retail, office and residential center,” including a town commons and residential park.
Although it has plenty of potential, it could take a decade or more to become a reality, according to the committee.
There are pros and cons to this “vision” for a future Elon. Some students support the plan, as it could potentially create a true college town vibe.
But others, like local Elon residents, especially those who have lived here for many years, might argue it would take away from the small-town feel and force Elon to become an overly commercialized city.
Despite its current small-town status, there are still many ways to appreciate and experience downtown Elon.Finding things to do near campus can be hard, but concerts, movies events are just a block away from Pandora’s Pies and a like for “The Elon Scene.”