EDITORIAL:Thursday night

Downtown Tupelo will open its doors and roll out red carpets Thursday for a special evening of fun and work for a good cause.

The Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association, merchants and the Tupelo-Lee Humane Society have partnered their efforts for three hours of shopping, socializing, and raising funds to build new facilities for the society's animal shelter.

The Main Street Association's “Wine Down” event begins at 6 p.m., with free wine tastings and other refreshments at participating businesses: MLM Clothiers, Reed's, The Main Attraction, Bella Vista, Beauty Motif, Ladybugs, Omi, Park Heights, Phipps Salon, Stephanie Ray Photography, The Studio at Gumtree, and Watchful Care Services.

Sale of souvenir wine glasses will support DTMSA activities.

All the events are planned as all-weather celebrations.

A silent auction, Art for Animals, begins at 7 p.m. at the museum to raise funds for the humane society. Admission is $25 per ticket (all ages), which includes hors d'oeuvres and drinks. Auction bids of course are in addition to the admission. The event closes its doors at 9 p.m.

Several widely known artists have contributed works to be auctioned, including nationally popular musician Paul Thorn, William Heard, Catherine Crews and Carolyn Watson.

The humane society has been particularly challenged in recent years by big increases in the number of animals recovered or brought to the shelter after being abandoned. Its capacity financially and physically has been strained, but its supporters have been steadfast. In 2007, a similar event raised $15,000; more is needed to keep up with demand and supplement the funds provided by Tupelo and Lee County governments and other private support.

Similar downtown evening events have been well attended and made money for charitable causes while stimulating business.

Tupelo's downtown is in full rebound, centered around long-established businesses and impressive new development linked to the Fairpark District. Thursday's events represent a strong blend of historic and new expressions of confidence in the heart of the city.