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To kick off its fourth year, Hell's Half Mile Film and Music Festival is shutting down a stretch of Saginaw Street in Downtown Bay City and throwing a party.  "For the first time, we're going to have a huge kick-off with music, food, and drinks," says Festival Director Alan LaFave.  In addition, there will be a number of tables featuring arts organizations, community groups, and vendors.  "And we'll have a tent, so it will happen rain or shine," he promises.

The party will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, October 1st, on Saginaw Street between Center Avenue and 5th Street. Big crowds are expected downtown that night since the party coincides with the monthly First Thursdays Gallery Walk.  While the party is an opportunity to create hype for and celebrate the festival, it is also an opportunity to help support the Gallery Walk.  "We really want to support all the arts in this area," explains HHM Volunteer Coordinator Christa Schubert.  "People will be exposed to music, film, and visual art.  In fact, we even had SVSU students hang work in the Directors Lounge at the Masonic Temple."  

HHM volunteer Capri Wisniewski adds, "There will be a lot for people to do and see between the block party and the gallery walk."  She first got involved with volunteering during last year's festival because she needed volunteer hours for a scholarship.  "I planned on just getting some hours and being done with it, but found that it is a great event that I want to continue to be part of," she explains.  "HHM gets people out and exposed to art in the form of music and movies."

Wisniewski's favorite part of the festival is seeing all of the people who come out for the event.  "All of the hard work pays off just in seeing people's smiling faces."   Bringing filmmakers, movie-buffs, music fans, and art-lovers together, the block party is sure to elicit dozens of smiling faces and should prove to be a fun way to kick off the four-day festival. 

The music will be provided by Screaming Casanovas, and there will be appetizers and a cash bar.  Entrance to the block party costs $6.00, but a $10 ticket can be purchased that will cover entrance to the party and the first film of the festival.  The opening film, Timer will screen following the block party at 8:30 p.m. at the State Theatre.  All Festival Passes are also available, or tickets may be purchased for individual films.  For more information on Hell's Half Mile Music and Film Festival, see our related story here.