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Many celebrate Cinco de Mayo on the square
Open container event is a great idea
Jeff McClure shows Kathleen Carter a card trick in downtown Gainesville at Scott’s on the Square on Thursday evening during downtown Gainesville’s Cinco de Mayo celebration featuring live music.

Thursday's Cinco de Mayo celebration was a party on the square.

Main Street Gainesville officials planned it to test out First Friday events in downtown Gainesville, which would start a new open container rule to allow people to purchase beer and wine on the square.

Residents trickled out as the event started, and then groups of people began walking through the downtown shops and restaurants.

"When people learn about it, they will come," said Gainesville City Council member Myrtle Figueras.

"It's great to be outside, and this is great for business. I hope it will encourage them to stay open so we can have more nights out downtown."

Figueras and others danced on the square, and two Gainesville State College students stopped to show their moves after shopping.

"This is a great idea. We love to have fun and come out and dance," said junior Jorden Wehunt. "It helps you to just get away for a little bit."

The event featured music on the square between 5-10 p.m., and the band Georgia Whiskey began playing around 7 p.m.

"It's a good location, and it gets your attention. It's a people puller," said sophomore Briana Sullivan. "Also, it's not just one age group. It could really draw a lot of people."

Under the open container rule, people bought beer and wine inside of restaurants and wore a wristband to walk around the downtown commercial district. The restaurants checked identification and poured the order into a 16-ounce or smaller clear cup.

"We were down at Scott's (on the Square) last night, and we saw the event on a card on the table," said Debbie Hitchcock, a Gainesville resident who tried out the open container change for the first time.

All downtown restaurants except NV Lounge signed up to serve alcohol as part of the event.

"We love anything that goes on in Gainesville, and we hope this continues. We need more events like this," said Gainesville resident Becky Albrecht. "Some of our friends who are out would also like mixed drinks to be added to the list."

Gainesville City Council members approved the Cinco de Mayo event in early April and must approve another resolution to make the monthly events permanent.

"There's so much potential here, and we're getting some cute and interesting stores that will lure people in," said Debra Harkrider, owner of Main Street Market building and chairwoman of the Main Street Advisory Board.

"I go to other cities to take courses, and I think about how much we could do," she said. "There's so much to do here, and many times people don't take advantage of what they have in their own city."

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