By Bill Kirk
---- — ANDOVER — Thousands of people enjoyed 70-degree weather, blue skies, lots of food and good music yesterday during an event that organizers billed as one of the most successful of its kind in town.
More than 8,000 people were expected to fill downtown streets, from Elm Square to Morton Street, drawn by 160 vendor booths, not to mention local restaurants, food trucks, carnival rides and two stages where performers sang, danced and strummed the day away from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“This is not a one-person event,” said Peter Caruso, president of the Andover Business Community Association, which organized the day. “My job was the weather. I took care of that.”
Caruso, speaking during opening ceremonies from the Main Stage at Elm Square, was joined by all five members of the Board of Selectmen along with a number of sponsors, including representatives from Stop & Shop and Lawrence General Hospital, among others.
He praised the many volunteers who helped put the event together, including former selectman Ted Teichert, who also gave introductory remarks during the opening ceremony.
Andrew Clark, managing partner of the Real School of Music located in Dundee Park, booked the musical acts for the event.
“We moved here six months ago and it feels like we’ve been here forever,” he said, standing near his company’s booth just a few yards from the Main Stage. “The ABCA asked us to help run the stages and line up the acts and we were happy to do it.”
Spectators were happy, too, as they listened to Josh and the Jamtones.
Dozens of businesses, under tents on either side of Main Street, beckoned pedestrians with everything from free massages and dog-kisses to diet plans and insurance policies.
Richard Tellier, a chiropractor, touted the services of his Andover Diet Center located on Andover Street and which offers a weight-loss program complete with food and beverages, menus and more.
At another booth, Tracie Fountas of River Road Veterinary Hospital was more concerned with the health of four-legged animals. Adjacent to the booth for the proposed Andover Dog Park, Fountas handed out brochures touting her and her husband’s five-year-old business at 176 River Road catering to animals of all kinds.
Alex Vispoli, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said the event was a good way to bring local residents together with local businesses.
“This is spectacular,” he said. “The ABCA works on this 12 months a year. This is a wonderful event for families who have lived here 30 or 40 years or people who just moved here or people who are visiting. Our downtown is a jewel. It’s one of the reasons people mention as to why they moved here.”
Meanwhile, across the street, 40 members of the 101 people in the cast of “Les Miserables,” being put on by Andover Community Theater in late October, got ready to take the Second Stage in front of the Savings Bank.
Police and fire officials said there no major problems, although one child was lost for a short period of time. Police were able to reunite the child with their parents quickly.