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Street performers can still play at Riverside’s Festival of Lights — in two spots

By in Press Enterprise on October 7, 2017

By Ryan Hagen

The street performers who helped fuel the massive growth of Riverside’s Festival of Lights will be limited to two sites this year, part of a compromise aimed at avoiding cramped and potentially unsafe roads without hurting the performers themselves.

Musicians and other performers can play in designated areas in front of the Main Library, which is next to the Mission Inn, and the Riverside Metropolitan Museum down the street.

To sweeten the deal, performances and their locations will be included in advertising of the event.

The proposal won support from business owners and most street performers. The Riverside City Council unanimously approved it Tuesday, Oct. 3. Previously, the city had pondered permits for entertainers.

“I do think that having street entertainment adds to the festival’s life, adds to the life of our downtown, and is one reason people elect to come down here,” said Councilman Mike Gardner, whose ward includes downtown. “It does, however, need to be done in a way that is safe, allows traffic to flow and doesn’t create an undue adverse impact on our downtown business. I think you have achieved that with this. I’m sure there is somebody who thinks it’s not perfect, but I think it is a big step in the right direction.”

It’s far from perfect, according to one of the city’s most recognized street performers, John Shannon.

In fact, said Shannon — a longtime Riverside street performer who was homeless a year ago and plans to use the money from this year’s Festival of Lights season to buy teeth — it could be financially ruinous.

“Playing on the other side of the Mission Inn is going to devastate my income,” Shannon said Friday. “Because they put everybody inside the chains to walk around the Mission Inn and there’s no room for street musicians by the […]    

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