Open container idea broached during city committee discussion | News, Sports,


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City and business leaders in Williamsport say they are exploring the concept of an open container allowance during events such as First Friday.

The idea of bringing an alcoholic beverage while walking around the downtown area and not commiting to go inside a bar or restaurant from 5 to 8 p.m. during the event was discussed Friday by City Council’s economic revitalization committee.

Beth Armanda, president of the Williamsport Business Association, said First Friday is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. It was postponed due to the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Armanda said she took the open container idea to the board of Lycoming County Arts Council and there were some concerns about that because the event is family oriented.

“We are not sure how with licensing and insurances how that goes,” Armanda said.

Councilwoman Liz Miele said the open container idea does not necessarily mean “everything needs to get wild and inappropriate,” a reference to cities that have that such as New Orleans.

“We would follow the feeling of the community on that,” Miele said, adding it might be “nice to be able to meader between businesses and continue the flow of the evening without committing to go inside to eat or drink.”

The purpose would be to have people on the street and enjoying the atmosphere, she said.

Open container allowing a plastic cup of alcoholic beverages to be held while walking around downtown during the street festival might help the city economy.

“We and the administration are involved in a strategic long-term economic development plan,” Councilman Dave Banks, committee chairman, said. As such, the committee is meeting with stakeholders in the city.

Banks said the discussion of open containers for First Friday wouldn’t mean an lapse in maintaining restrictions for health and safety provided by the state Department of Health.

“As the city moves out of the pandemic, we need to open up a little bit,” he said.

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