No finer place; Vision 2020 invites residents ‘Downtown’ with viral video

Penny Kinney stands along Main Street Tuesday afternoon. It was Kinny’s idea to make a video highlighting Austin businesses to the song “Downtown.” Eric Johnson/

Penny Kinney stands along Main Street Tuesday afternoon. It was Kinny’s idea to make a video highlighting Austin businesses to the song “Downtown.” Eric Johnson/

The video opens with the brass building up to the classic song everyone knows.

In the background, Austinites are taking in various downtown businesses. Some go to restaurants, others to clinical services.

A screen shot taken from the Destination Austin Business.  See the full video at

A screen shot taken from the Destination Austin Business. See the full video at

Suddenly, a conga line featuring Chamber of Commerce representatives appears. Some of the people are laughing, dancing and singing. Others are smiling awkwardly.

Yet the effort is there — these people want you to know everything’s waiting for you downtown.

This is the latest idea from Vision 2020’s Destination Downtown Committee, a fun video featuring the Austin High School Jazz One band playing the classic 1964 song “Downtown” by Petula Clark and Tony Hatch.

“We definitely took the approach that this should be fun and casual,” Laura Helle, Vision 2020’s Director of Vision Creation.

The idea for the video came from Penny Kinney, who was inspired to help promote the downtown area shortly after Vision 2020’s 10 committees were formed in 2012.

“Anything that would help to carry out that mission, which is establish downtown Austin as a premiere spot for the city,” Kinney said. “I just thought a promotional video that could be uploaded to all kinds of websites and things would be a good idea.”

To that end, she and John Deyo hatched a scheme to create a lighthearted, albeit goofy, music video.

Kinney and Deyo’s idea hit a snag, however: Deyo knew the rights to the song would be astronomical.

Yet they found a solution after Jerry Girton, the former director of the Riverland Community College’s theater program, remembered he played that song with the band during his high school days at Grand Meadow.

From there, Grand Meadow staff found the music Girton played for the Austin High School Jazz One band, which recorded the song one day with Deyo and Kinney.

“I was so happy to be able to find that music,” Kinney said.

From there, Deyo and Kinney found willing volunteers and plenty of on-screen talent to feature, whether dancing to a gentle bossa nova or belting out song lyrics for the camera.

The “Downtown” video took more than a year to make, as Deyo shot footage of various downtown Austin activities and events in his spare time. Deyo finished the video earlier this month, and Helle posted the video on Facebook on July 9.

Vision 2020 volunteers were pleased with the results.

“Before the first 24 hours it had over 2,000 views,” Kinney said. “That’s really been quite amazing, so that’s really nice that people are sharing it.”

According to Helle, the video is “a tool in the toolbox” for marketing purposes, as each downtown business can use the clip for marketing and promotions.

Yet the video also showcases how fun the downtown area can be, especially through Deyo’s camera lens.

“I can’t say enough about how important John was,” Kinney said. “He knows how to make the best-looking projects out of a silly idea.”

The video, which has more than 5,500 views as of Tuesday afternoon, can be found on the Downtown Austin, Minnesota Facebook page. Vision 2020 also posted it to Youtube.


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