GREENFIELD — They brought pizza, sandwiches and salads.
Greenfield Police Chief John Jester took off his gun belt — it was getting in the way of his perfect aim as he and Greenfield street commissioner Tyler Rankins tossed beanbags with brothers Sean and Braden Swift.
As community members spent their lunch hours on the Courthouse Plaza, Sydney Armstrong’s voice echoed throughout downtown Greenfield as she sang and played guitar.
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Wednesday marked Greenfield Main Street’s first Picnics on the Plaza. The lunchtime event also will be July 6 and Aug. 3.
The events aim to bolster interest in the downtown area by drawing community members to the courthouse plaza for live music, games and camaraderie throughout the summer. The effort also gives local artists — like Armstrong — a chance to showcase their talents in a hometown setting.
Picnics on the Plaza gives residents a chance to spend time on the courthouse plaza, a downtown gathering spot that’s typically underutilized, said Greenfield Main Street Executive Director Shelley Swift. It also encourages residents to visit downtown eateries and get outside rather than eating lunch indoors.
Organizers encouraged attendees to bring their lunch — either from home or a downtown restaurant — and enjoy the sunny weather.
“This is a beautiful space,” Swift said. “Come out, share lunch with your colleagues and listen to some great, homegrown talent.”
The Greenfield Parks Department donated picnic tables — which will be on the plaza all summer — and beanbag toss boards for the event. Armstrong was Wednesday’s entertainment. Main Street hopes to attract other local musicians to the picnics in July and August.
Kelly Taflinger, who works in the courthouse, typically eats lunch outside on the plaza throughout the summer. Once she’s finished eating, she heads to the Pennsy Trail for a midday walk. Usually, she eats lunch alone — unless her daughter brings the grandkids by for a visit — so being surrounded by colleagues and other community members livened up her routine, she said.
The plaza is a great place to enjoy lunch, but very few people use it, she said.
“Sometimes it gets a little lonely,” she said. “This is something a little different.”
Mayor Chuck Fewell ate sandwiches with colleagues during his lunch hour. He hopes more folks will come out in July and August as word of the events spreads — it’s a great way to enjoy downtown Greenfield and visit with neighbors, he said.
“I would like to see the whole city come out,” Fewell said. “These are the types of things you want to see in your downtown.”
The next Picnic on the Plaza is scheduled for July 6. Another will be held Aug. 3.
The event runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the plaza south of the Hancock County Courthouse on State Street in Greenfield.
Residents are encouraged to pack a lunch or bring something from a downtown eatery. Live music and cornhole are included in the fun.