In Bixby Knolls, the first Friday of the month means that shops along Atlantic Avenue stay open late, artists and musicians post up along the sidewalks and neighbors come together for a bite to eat and some family friendly fun.

This Friday, there's a patriotic twist.

It's the First Friday American Beauty celebration, a continuation of the Fourth of July festivities.

"We're just tagging along in celebration of the holiday weekend," Blair Cohn, executive director at the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association (BKBIA), said. "It gives something fun for everyone to do after the July Fourth holiday."

In usual First Fridays fashion, area shops are extending their hours and may offer some Independence Day specials. Twig & Willow, for example, will offer a prize wheel for patrons who spend $40 or more and Elsie's Tea Room is offering a special red, white and blue tea tasting for $10 per person (cash only). That includes a cup of tea, a scone, tea sandwiches and dessert.

The Bixby Knolls trolley will be cruising Atlantic Avenue all evening long, featuring a barbershop quartet. Other music features Toaster Music at the Expo Arts Center, The Killer West at Georgie's Place, the Windy Ridge Band at Bixby Joe and violinist Alan Price at Pixie Toys, to name a few.

Also at Georgie's Place is a showcase of classic cars and nearby at the Expo Arts Center will be a gallery of artwork by Long Beach artists, Cohn said.

"Like every First Friday, we're really highlighting the neighborhood," he added. "That means bands and musicians and artists are setting up to showcase their work."

For the youngsters, there will be a patriotic glow party featuring glow sticks, a sensory booth and cotton candy stand. That's happening in the lot at 4326 Atlantic Ave.

There also may be a visit from a founding father or two.

"Last year we had George Washington on a Segway," Cohn said. "Maybe this year Alexander Hamilton will pay a visit."

Bixby Knolls's American Beauty First Friday, which is organized by the BKBIA, is happening from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Friday, July 5, at the Expo Arts Center (4321 Atlantic Ave.) and surrounding businesses.

For a list of First Friday to-dos, go to

Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at

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