What I really love the most about what I am doing is that I get to meet people with a burning passion for Danville and Vermilion County. At this particular meeting, I quickly realized that there are a whole mess of people who are working their butts off to make Danville great. I walked away from this interview with more pride for my city than ever before – things are changing, people. The foundation has been put into place. Let’s rally and stand behind these citizens who have great vision for our great town. One of these people is Peter Blackmon.
Pete started out with a dream to teach English and coach soccer in his hometown high school in Chicago. He promised his parents that if he majored in English, he would go on to attend law school. The result of those dreams ended with Pete being a “complete failure.” Between school at the University of Illinois in Champaign (where he was offered a full ride to get his Masters in acting) and falling in love with his now wife, Laura – Pete found himself living in Danville working for Downtown Danville, Inc. (DDI). When he started the job he planned on only staying in Vermilion County for two to five years…twenty years later he is still here and has made his mark through all of the “happy little accidents.”
While at DDI, Pete created things like the Night Parade and Summer Sounds – he helped set the foundation for what you see in downtown Danville today. With mentors and friends such as Gary Ludwig, Pat O’Shaughnessy, Michael Federman, Mike O’Brien, and many more, Pete was a part of a team who made great strides in our city. Soon after, Pete was asked to interview for the general manager position at the David S. Palmer Arena so that he could do with the arena what he did with DDI. In 2000, Pete became the general manager while continuing his work in the community. He took charge and has since seen many successes arise through his work. Pete was actually there when the Festival of Trees was born – in fact, he served as chair of the committee for six years. He has also been the voice behind First Gig Rock Camp – a summer program to teach kids how to be rockstars. Pete continues to be involved in several different businesses whose goals are to make Danville the best it can be.
I asked Pete how he relaxes…what does he do for fun in our town? He loves a good comic book movie – it gives him “two hours of solace.” I found it hilarious that he mentioned he does not go see Oscar nominated films because he doesn’t want to spend his time there thinking about the “social impact of this movie.” He loves to go to the Summer Sounds concerts with his wife and daughter, Caroline, and really enjoys his own events such as the Danville Dashers and the Riverhawks.
Pete is also all about the “passion projects”…mainly working beside Jordan Cundiff at SCP Records. He likes to “get behind music that I feel and watch artists as they develop.” He also played a major role in bringing Lose the Training Wheels camp to the Arena, and is happy to be a part of the group who is bringing back the Balloon Classic – which will now be called Balloons Over Vermilion. “It belongs to the next generation.” The legacy of Danville is being made with everything we do. Pete loves that Danville is so open to anything. The “crazy” ideas he comes up with are always received with a “let’s try it” mentality from the city. “I might have an ok idea…but WE will make it great. That’s why Danville is great.”
Check out some of the upcoming events at the David S. Palmer Arena:
Peace & Love,
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