San Jose 'Night Market' aims to rebuild community and support businesses after the pandemic

A block party in San Jose’s SoFA District brought hundreds of people out downtown Thursday night. The Urban Vibrancy Institute is collaborating with other groups for this weekly gathering to support local businesses and artists.   

This is the second week for the block party and organizers say they want residents and others to connect more often and support the many businesses and entrepreneurs in the area.  

Live music, vendors, food trucks, and family fun is what you can expect at the Pobladores Night Market on South First and William Streets.  

"Since COVID, a lot more people are working at home and so there’s not as much activity in the business community downtown. So we want to make sure that they’re aware that things are still happening here," said Fil Maresca with Filco Events.  

The block party will be held each Thursday night until the end of August. Some local organizations, including the Institute of Contemporary Art, The San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana, and Sacred Heart will each guest host a block party. 

Janaya Monique says she started as a visual artist during the pandemic and is now sharing her work at Pobladores Night Market.   

"So I think that having these events weekly, it’s summer-time, you know it’s warm, we’ve got good music. I think it’s great to just build community and learn about all the wonderful local artists out here," Monique said.    

San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan also made an appearance at the event, welcoming attendees and vendors. San Jose resident Robert Parra says he came out to support the artistic community.  

"It’s about showing up and showing out and being supportive to the community I was born and raised in," Parra said.   

Some businesses in downtown San Jose have been slow to recover economically since the pandemic and organizers hope the block parties will help turn things around.  

"All downtown, but I think this neighborhood especially, really benefits from people actually being out in the neighborhood. Like during the day, it’s pretty dead, just a lot of cars and traffic. It’s good to remember that there are actually a lot of people here downtown," said Luke Spicer, of downtown San Jose.     

The San Jose Downtown Association also collaborated to market the block parties and Maresca says because the weather is usually good in San Jose, they may extend the block parties until November.