Oakland First Fridays back on with some changes following October shooting and November cancellation

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- For this first time since a shooting following the event in October, Oakland First Fridays is back in business. Organizers worked with city leaders, Oakland Police, and the community to improve the event.

The roots of Hope Lehman's business run through First Fridays where she's been selling since 2014.

RELATED: Oakland's First Fridays taking a one-month break

"I love First Friday because it's a great experience for first-time entrepreneurs to test out their product and it's a very low barrier to entry. You have to get your license of course, but also the vending fees are affordable," said Lehman.

So when a shooting at 19th and Telegraph Avenue hours after the October event forced the closure for November, it was a hit for small business owners like Lehman.

"It's consistent income that we were missing out on for sure," said Lehman.

Organizers got right to work trying to reinstate the street fair.

"We had some town hall meetings and we listened to the community and we took that feedback and we made changes to the event," said Shari Godinez with KONO the group that heads First Fridays.

This month security is more visible.

"Yes, there is more security. I appreciate it. It's good," said Paxy Flores, an Oakland resident.
"We have the same amount of security we just have them wearing high visibility vests and we have street ambassadors who are going to come after the event to patrol the downtown area," said Godinez.

"I appreciate the organizers who really like hold it down and have been working with the city," said Lehman.

With a more festive family vibe, organizers expect around 20,000 people to attend the December event. It's less than the usual crowds of 40,000 to 50,000.

But once people know their favorite vendors are back they will be too.

RELATED: Oakland First Friday: Here's what's going down in the 'Town'

"Oakland's different. There's nowhere else in California that's like this and so the people embrace us so we enjoy coming and doing First Fridays," said Brian Hines, owner of By the Beach Caribbean Cuisine.

Hines drives all the way from Temecula for First Fridays. Selling some 300 pounds of chicken makes the trip worth it.
Copyright © 2021 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.