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DALLAS Downtown Dallas needs to get 'funky.' That's what Mayor Mike Rawlings said in a speech earlier this week.

He also said it's up to the people who live and work downtown to convince others that this is the place to be.

And already it looks like some citizens are rising to the challenge.

A little bit of color, a little bit of culture and a lot of people spending their time and money downtown on a Saturday exactly what city leaders want to see this weekend... and every weekend.

'To come down here and have a revitalized Dallas, Texas, is beautiful,' said Aimee Williams, an Allen resident who was attending the first-ever Lamar Street Festival in the historic Cedars South Side neighborhood.

It coincides with and was inspired by the 100-year anniversary of the South Side on Lamar building.

The festival celebrates music, film, art, and the area itself. It's a part of the city south of downtown that perhaps a decade ago, few people would have seen as a destination spot.

'It's a wonderful part of town, and it is part of this connection of getting people downtown to these smaller parts of Dallas that have their own unique flavor,' said John Matthews, who helped organize the festival.

On Friday night, people flocked to Aurora 2013 90 art installations spanning more than 19 blocks, with buildings serving as backdrops for projections of light and sound.

As the sun set on Fishtrap Lake Saturday evening, visitors took in the natural beauty and a work of art commissioned by the Nasher XChange. Tina Hargrow had planned to somewhere else with her son until she caught a glimpse of a rainbow pier.

'I saw the bridge here, and it just kept my attention,' she said. 'And so I never did leave the neighborhood.'

It's that desire to stay near downtown that Dallas leaders hope will boost the number of people living in the center city to 15,000 by 2020.

While new restaurants and businesses are springing up every day, there are still a lot of empty buildings. But with the right attractions, they just might decide to stick around for a while.

E-mail cwade@wfaa.com

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