Teachers will be serenaded and applauded and otherwise appreciated at a free "Toast to Teachers" block party Friday on East Toole Avenue downtown.

The street in front of Maynards will be closed, making room for food vendors and performances by members of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, Los Diablitos Azules mariachi band from Sunnyside High School and other local acts.

"This is a hard time to be a teacher, and nobody can dispute that," said Jacquelyn Jackson, director of Tucson Values Teachers, the nonprofit group that is hosting the party.

In press materials, she described the block party as "an opportunity for the entire community to let teachers know how much they are valued."

And, yes, there'll be a real toast to K-12 teachers, with apple juice.

The block party kicks off at 5:30 p.m. and will wind down at 7:30 p.m. so that everybody can hightail it over to the Tucson Music Hall for TSO's free "Celebrate the Future" concert, starring young performers and composers, including Alexander Garcia .

More info at www.tucson valuesteachers.org