Gather at the Village
I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I feel a certain amount of affinity with the Village at Meridian.
In the fall of 2103, Eagle Magazine assigned me to write an article about the emerging Village on the prime corner of Eagle and Fairview, one of the Treasure Valley’s busiest intersections. I talked to their marketing representative at the time, who spoke the immortal words, “I’m not sure the Treasure Valley is fully prepared for all that the Village at Meridian will have to offer.”
At the VIP party the day before its Grand Opening, surrounded by fire dancers, stilt walkers, complimentary hors d’oeuvres and beverages, castle-fashioned buildings and lighted, dancing fountains, I had to agree.
“Disney-like” is how many people describe the place, with perhaps a Hilton twist. Customer service is flawless, and everyone from concierge to maintenance is smiling, friendly, and courteous. The venue commands a certain level of dignity and respect. It’s a place one wants to dress up and behave well for. Although there are no rules posted in plain sight, there’s an obvious yet unspoken code of conduct, encouraged by elegant surroundings and ultra-classy staff.
“We wanted people to feel comfortable there,” the Village at Meridian’s Debby Smith told me, “All of our security and staff is super nice; everyone has been instructed to make it special, kind of like Disneyland. That’s very important to us.”
When 2014 rolled around, I was again asked to write about the Village at Meridian in the form of a blog tour. My friends at RedSky PR were behind that adventure, and after spending two days getting pampered and having my soul’s batteries recharged by the dancing Bellagio-style fountains, I felt like a different, better person.
A highlight was getting to know sculptor Brian Keith, creator of the bronze pieces at Fountain Square. “New Wings”, the sculpture of a blissful little girl on a swing, is one of my favorites. I learned from Brian that the piece was inspired by his daughter, Malia, who was just beginning to read. He and his wife had been watching new worlds open for this child of theirs, whose name means “peace”.
I have no idea how many times I’ve been back. If getting together with friends, it’s simply convenient to meet at Fountain Square, then choose the restaurant we’ll be dining at, movie we’ll be seeing, store we want to browse through, or the location of our sweet tooth fix.
As if there isn’t enough going on, the Village at Meridian continually pumps family-friendly events into the mix.
“Everything we do here is family-friendly, we make sure of that,” the Village at Meridian’s Debby Smith told me, and then gave me the lineup.
I love how the Village at Meridian doesn’t forget the moms with young children.
“Depending on the weather,” Debby told me, “Usually by May or June on the first Tuesday of the month from 11 a.m.-12 p.m. is Tall Tale Tuesday, a story time for preschoolers. This year we had stories with a princess from the Treasure Valley Children’s Theatre who told princess stories. The princess will come back next year, joined by a pirate.”
“It’s adorable, “Debby adds, “Last month, we probably had 100 little kids there with their moms. While the kids sit up front on the grass, listening to stories and doing some directed exercises and things, the moms can sit back in their chairs with their friends and just enjoy it. A lot of the moms will go out to lunch afterwards, making a big day of it. Many preschools bring their students, too. Tall Tale Tuesday is getting to be pretty well-known.”
Since Tuesday has always been my favorite day of the week, I was delighted to hear Debby say, “I you want to break up the week, Tuesday is your day. The theater kind of started it with their $5 Tuesdays, and now a lot of our retail and restaurants getting on board with specials. Tuesdays are a huge hit.”
As an artist, I’ve also become aware of something else that’s new at the Village at Meridian: “Escape to the Village”, the Ladies’ Night Out on the first Thursday of every month, where local artists display and sell their work around the corner from Fountain Square in bright white tents. I was there last month as a vendor, feeling deeply appreciative of the many ways the Village draws local people in.
At “Escape to the Village”, women are pampered and treated to lots of freebies. They’re given a passport at the Concierge desk, and are instructed to go around to the various shops, where they’ll receive hand massages, scarf tying instruction, brownie bits, other scrumptious samples, or some other fun thing to get in on. Once four locations are stamped on their passports, they return to the Concierge for a Village-purple gift bag. Last month’s gift was a Village at Meridian wallet.
Mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, grandmas, and friends were strolling through the tented street, admiring the colorful art, enjoying each other, carrying purple gift bags, and were exulting in a night designed just for them.
Furthermore, the Village at Meridian will often partner with Kleiner Park events. When the park hosted an Easter Egg hunt, the Village at Meridian hosted a kids’ dance off.
“People go over to Kleiner, then stroll over to our place,” Debby says, “It happens all the time.”
I’ve often sat on the patio of a Village at Meridian eatery, observing families grouping around an outdoor table, friends in lively discussion, couples walking together, hand-in-hand, young children laughing and calling to each other on the playground, and little girls dancing and leaping on the irresistible stage that is the green turf, eventually joined by their moms, who take hold of their hands and swing their daughters around.
“We always say, ‘It’s your Village,’” Debby Smith assures.
We have ourselves a natural gathering place, and I’m so grateful.