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Gainesville testing open container events
Most restaurants to sell alcohol
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Cinco de Mayo

What: Obtain a wristband to purchase beer and wine at restaurants and walk around the downtown commercial district.

When: 5-10 p.m. today

Where: Gainesville's downtown square

How much: Free


Main Street Gainesville officials are trying a new tradition to test how open container events could work on the downtown square.

If successful, today's Cinco de Mayo celebration could mark the first of a series of events to draw residents to the downtown area for shopping, dining and entertainment on the first weekend each month.

"We're very excited, and we hope it goes well because all of the merchants want us to continue this every month," said Angela Thompson, Main Street manager. "Anytime people are downtown enjoying themselves, it's good for business."

The open container rule will allow people to purchase beer and wine inside of restaurants between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. and obtain a wristband to walk around the downtown commercial district. All downtown restaurants except NV Lounge will serve alcohol as part of the event.

"Everyone was so excited at the Blue Sky Concert event, and everyone is feeling positive about the Cinco de Mayo event," Thompson said Wednesday afternoon. "We're excited about trying something different for downtown."

The restaurants will check identification and pour the order into a 16-ounce or smaller clear cup.

"We'll have live music between 7 and 10 p.m. and recorded Latino music before that," Thompson said.

"We'll also have an art walk until 8 p.m., where artists will showcase their artwork in several stores."

Gainesville City Council members approved the idea in early April and discussed it again at Tuesday's council meeting.

"It's a way to bring people downtown and really enjoy the outdoors," said Mayor Ruth Bruner. "With the open container trial, people won't have to stay in one location, and they can hear the music and experience the food and stores."

Thompson has asked Suwanee and Brunswick officials how to pull off similar monthly events, which would start on the first Friday in June and run through October.

"When I go by the square, I see a lot of people and I really like it," said council member Myrtle Figueras. "It's getting better all the time."