By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Tonight’s First Friday in Old City will be just the beginning of a three-day “First Weekend” in the arts district. Galleries and businesses are hoping to extend the success of their busiest night of the month.

All it took was later hours and a little wine and cheese to make Old City the most popular destination in the city, once a month.

It’s been more than 20 years since pioneering gallery owners dreamed up First Friday, to draw potential customers to the slightly rundown wholesale district they were taking over. Now, you can barely pass through north 2nd and 3rd streets on First Friday. But the huge success has not always meant more customers.

“The First Friday crowd, I must admit, is a people-watching and a sight-seeing crowd,” says Arther Meckler, owner of Reform Gallery at 4th and Arch and vice-president of the Old City Arts Association.

He says the Saturday and Sunday extension of First Friday is designed for more serious shoppers. The kick-off event is a Flower Show-themed Scavenger Hunt on Saturday. Then on Sunday, some galleries and shops will offer discounts to shoppers who’ve had brunch at an Old City restaurant.

“We’re going to rack our brains to come up with ideas to promote First Weekends and that’s just hopefully the tip of the iceberg.”

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