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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Kissing Alley serves as gateway for love, community in San Marcos

A+photo+of+the+Kissing+Alley+street+sign%2C+Saturday%2C+Feb.+5%2C+2022%2C+at+Kissing+Alley.

A photo of the Kissing Alley street sign, Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022, at Kissing Alley.

A hub for photography, group dinners, concerts and weddings, Kissing Alley has become a beloved destination in downtown San Marcos over the last several years.
In February 2017 the alley between Shade Rooftop Patio Bar and what was then Hub Cyclery was officially named Kissing Alley. Credit for the name goes to the San Marcos Main Street Program whose staff began calling it Kissing Alley in 2015 to open opportunities for placemaking.
According to Josie Falletta, downtown coordinator for the Main Street Program, placemaking means creating places where people want to spend time. Eventually, the name “Kissing Alley” caught on and the Main Street Program began using the space to host events.
“It started unofficial and that’s kind of the beauty of placemaking is that you know, you just build spaces that people want to spend time at and then over time, it might become more formalized, which I think is such a cool aspect of Kissing Alley is that it started as a very kind of grassroots campaign,” Falletta said.
Some of the events that take place in the alley are a testimony to how special it is to the community and the downtown atmosphere. Falletta said she enjoys seeing all the different ways people use the spot to celebrate.
“There have been several weddings. Which is so sweet,” Falletta said. “There have been farm-to-table dinners in Kissing Alley. There have been all kinds of concerts hosted by all different types of organizations and entities. And then, you know, some of my favorite things are the unplanned events … a lot of times I’ll be walking around just in my normal day of work, and I see people taking photos. It’s really quite a hub for photography.”
Besides concerts and dinners, the Main Street Program uses Kissing Alley as a center to celebrate Valentine’s Day downtown. Since 2017, members of the public have been invited to write letters addressed to their loved ones and slip them into the Kissing Alley mailbox. Letters are marked with a special Hallmark stamp that says, “Sent from Kissing Alley,” and are then mailed to their recipients.
This year, the Main Street Program will also host a special Valentine’s Day movie night with a free screening of “La La Land” at 6:30 p.m. on the Hays County Courthouse lawn.
In the past, other Valentine’s Day celebrations have included a photo booth and a Galentine’s Day party where attendees were invited to Kissing Alley to dress up and enjoy snacks, champagne and live music.
Although she lives 15 minutes away in Fentress, Texas, Steph Cherry said she and her family love visiting downtown San Marcos and keeping up with the Main Street Program on Facebook. Cherry added it’s become a yearly tradition for her family to mail Valentine’s letters from Kissing Alley.
“I have three girls. So, we go there every Valentine’s and mail all of our Valentines,” Cherry said. “We send mail to their grandparents, we mail to friends, we do people in the nursing home. Like yesterday, we mailed 37 letters from there, so they’ll all get stamped with the cute little [stamp].”
Besides sending letters through the mailbox, Cherry has also attended a concert in Kissing Alley. She said each time she visits she can see why the street is special to downtown San Marcos.
“Everybody loves love, right? And I think it just feels like that little space that everybody has like Lover’s Leap or whatever and we have this cute little quaint space,” Cherry said. “We walk through there all the time … and my husband and I always kiss there so it’s just a fun little thing to do.”
In terms of urban planning, Kissing Alley and the entirety of downtown San Marcos seek to bring a sense of comfortability to pedestrians. The height of the buildings, the proximity to the street and the overall environment of Kissing Alley are what make it special to downtown. Being able to stumble across something like a concert or an entire community gathering in an alleyway is appealing to visitors and locals alike.
Since the formalization of Kissing Alley in 2017, funding now exists for the area and its upkeep. Currently, the City of San Marcos is designing and planning for a $5 million project to turn Kissing Alley into a downtown San Marcos destination.
Rohit Vij, the project manager for the Kissing Alley reconstruction project, said the transformation will include improvement in underground utilities such as wastewater replacement and electric infrastructure. The reconstruction team will also work with a design team to add things like seating, lighting and landscaping.
Vij said this project marks the beginning of a longer project to clean up the city’s alleyways. He said they picked Kissing Alley as the first project since it is the main alley downtown.
“It’s not a random alleyway. It’s a destination spot, Kissing Alley,” Vij said. “People generally go there you know, there is a sign or there’s a mural on the wall, 78666, people just go there to visit that mural, get some pictures done with that mural. It’s not a random project. It’s the first project for the city to be taken for design and construction and we picked Kissing Alley.”
In January, the City of San Marcos hosted an open house event in Kissing Alley to take suggestions and get public feedback on what should be done with the area. Residents were presented with different design concepts to determine what they liked best for Kissing Alley’s transformation. Some of the public’s suggestions included lighting, landscaping and signage or a gateway into the alley.
The Kissing Alley reconstruction project is expected to begin in Fall 2023 and to be completed by Spring 2025. Vij said he hopes the project will give the Main Street Program more opportunities to show people how special downtown San Marcos is.
“One of the things that we are limited on in the downtown area is public space,” Falletta said. “So, it’s easy for people to go and visit local businesses, but we don’t have a plaza, for example, with seating, where people can go and bring their coffee and sit down and enjoy it and talk to a friend. Kissing Alley would really become kind of like an outdoor living room or a third space, as they call it in urban planning … that environment where it encourages you to visit a local business, but it also provides that intersection of just people being able to interact with one another.”
For more information on Kissing Alley and Downtown San Marcos, follow the San Marcos Main Street Program on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @DowntownSMTX.

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  • A photo of the Mainstreet Valentines Mailbox, Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022, at Kissing Alley.

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