Last Friday, city officials allowed open containers on Broad Street, meaning people could walk around with glasses of beer and wine and other beverages.

And guess what? The world didn’t come to an end. People weren’t falling out in the streets, committing terrible crimes because they were all boozed up.

But we’ll get to that in a second.

The return of the First Friday concert brought a ton of people to downtown Rome and that was great to see.

My friends and I got some dinner at a downtown restaurant and sat outside so we could see all the people walking up and down Broad Street. And there were a lot. With the return of the First Friday Concert Series, folks were eager to get downtown, socialize and have a great time.

After dinner we walked over to the Town Green and it was incredible to see literally hundreds of people milling about. Many were sitting in the middle of the green where they could see the stage. Lots of others were standing around the perimeter of the Town Green.

I’ve missed seeing people socialize and laugh and cut up with each other in a big group setting like that.

It seems like half of Rome was out there. I saw Dustin and Michele Rikard, Jan Fergerson, David and Kathy Mathis, Ann Hortman, Kay and Keith Doegg, Ben Levy, Tannika King, Carrie Watterson and her kids, Tiffany Horton, Collin and Lenora Doss, Monica Sheppard, Scott Wood, Thunder who does karaoke at Giggity’s, Jim and Cathy Powell, Scotty and Sarita Brock, Chris Jackson and his family, and of course a whole lot more people.

There were kids running around, people were dancing and singing along with the music, it was just like any other First Friday concert and that was wonderful to get back to.

Let me say here that the musicians were talented. It was a dueling piano act. I’ve been to dueling piano acts before and it’s so much fun. However, I think that particular act is better suited to smaller settings, for example a bar. It lends itself to adults feeling good, drinking, dancing and singing along loudly to the music. In my opinion it didn’t translate well to a big outdoor space where you’re farther away from the performers, and I heard that from several people as well. BUT kudos to the organizers for trying something new. The performers were talented and I think most people enjoyed hearing a variety of songs and genres, which is what you get with a dueling pianos format.

As I mentioned previously, you were allowed to walk around with alcohol in the Broad Street area. This issue has come up twice previously before the city commission — whether or not to allow open containers on Broad Street all the time. It’s been voted down twice. And it’s a shame.

I saw lots of people carrying beers and wine, sipping as they moved from place to place downtown and all around the Town Green. It’s one of the things that helped attract so many people to the event. And oddly enough, no one was passing out drunk in the street or being belligerent and getting in fights.

I guess the people who think open containers in downtown Rome could only lead to crime and acts of lewdness may need to step out of the 1800s and realize some change is good and could actually benefit a thriving, vibrant community.

And I think the concert brought a lot of people downtown who then started walking around and patronizing lots of the restaurants and stores on and around Broad Street. Several of the restaurants were packed when we got downtown and I know there were a bunch of folks who went from place to place getting food and drinks.

It was a great night in Rome.

And while everyone was allowed to walk around with their drinks downtown, it did NOT lead to anarchy and chaos in the streets. It did not lead to devil-worshipping in dark alleys and it did not lead to people passing out drunk on park benches. It led to most folks having a good time. And you know what people do when they have a good time? They spend money. And they come BACK to have a good time. And they tell their friends about it.

Change isn’t always a good thing. But change isn’t always a bad thing, either. Don’t get stuck in the past because you’re afraid of what the future MIGHT bring.

See y’all at the next First Friday concert.

Severo Avila is Features Editor for the Rome News-Tribune.

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