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APlex hosting open house for new outdoor event space

News Photo by Darby Hinkley The APlex now offers an outdoor event space featuring a gazebo, Edison lighting, shade sails and landscaping by Doug Pratt of PRATTScape, with a walkway of brick pavers leading up to the round gazebo area, surrounded by river rock, small trees and flowering plants. Pictured from left to right are APlex Office Manager Denise Donakowski and APlex Marketing Associate Elaine Webber.

ALPENA — Those who want to step outside for a smoke or to enjoy the weather can do so without setting their drink down now at APlex events, thanks to a newly added outdoor event space.

Called the wedding garden area, the space features a gazebo, hanging Edison lighting, shade sails and landscaping by Doug Pratt of PRATTScape, with a walkway of brick pavers leading up to the round gazebo area, surrounded by river rock, small trees and flowering plants.

An open house for visitors to explore the new space is open to the public from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday.

“So, with the fencing we put in, even though it’s not gated, with the fencing we now have clear perimeters, so we were approved for an additional liquor license,” APlex Office Manager Denise Donakowski explained. “An outdoor liquor license, which means we can have a bar out there.”

Donakowski is excited for the added entertainment value the space adds to the popular event venue.

“We’re booked every weekend,” Donakowski said. “All of our events, all of our fundraisers, they all have a bar, and I don’t think there’s ever been an event where people haven’t come out here to smoke. So everybody will be able to enjoy this area.”

APlex Marketing Associate Elaine Webber agreed.

“I think it’s going to be a huge benefit to the APlex,” Webber said. “I’m here at most of the events, getting them set up, and we’ve had so many positive comments about how great it is.”

Donakowski said it’s a big improvement.

“There was just nothing out here before,” she said. “Just three random trees, and we didn’t use the space for anything at all. So, what we all felt we were lacking here at the APlex, was an area for people to have a ceremony here, or it can just be a gathering space.”

She said more and more people are choosing to have their weddings in places other than a church. Now there is a dedicated space for those ceremonies, and the chairs can be set up under the shade sails on the plush lawn.

Omega Electric installed the lighting and electrical outlets, and Lakeshore Plumbing and Heating installed the irrigation system. Pratt also donated a spruce tree planted near the fencing, in honor of fallen police officers, she added.

At Wednesday’s open house, Doreen Thomas, owner of Violet & Mae Flower Farm and Classic Designs by Doreen Thomas, will provide floral arrangements and decorations to liven up the space for visitors.

During events, twinkle lights will be added to the trees lining the perimeter of the space to give it more ambience and make it more inviting, Donakowski said.

Work on this new space began in June, and more improvements are yet to come.

“Next year I think the plan is to hopefully get a couple of outdoor patio sets,” Donakowski added. “And that’ll be a nice place for people to sit and chat, enjoy the weather, and have a drink.”

For the cooler fall months, she added that tall decorative outdoor heaters may be added, as well as more seating with decorative park benches.

Donakowski noted that the schedule is filling up for 2020 weddings.

“We have 15 booked for next year already,” she said.

For more information, or to book an event, contact the APlex (Alpena Events Complex) at 989-354-6164, located at 700 Woodward Ave. in Alpena.