Thousands throng first Third Thursday of the summer in Pittsfield

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PITTSFIELD — The opening of Third Thursday 2017 was a midsummer night's affair.

July-like warmth greeted the thousands of men, women, children enjoying an evening out on the town after a week of wet, cooler-than-normal temperatures.

Vendors selling bottled water couldn't chill them fast enough. A continuous long line at the Krispy Kone trailer kept the scoopologists busy dishing out their 24 flavors of soft-serve ice cream.

The shade trees fronting St. Joseph's Church were a welcome relief for those listening to the Hillcrest Youth Drummers.

Since May traditionally celebrates youth to kick-off the series of monthly block parties through September, the new kid zone was unveiled on and around the church lawn. The play area included young performers, #HoopsNotCrime basketball contest sponsored by the Pittsfield Police Department and the popular Carr Hardware Bounce House.

Caleb Darby from Dalton stood outside the inflated rubber structure waiting for his 8 year old son Norrin and 2 year old daughter Lana to wear themselves out. Norrin was the first to exit, a bit exhausted who had to go back in an retrieve his energetic sister."She'll go until she drops," Darby noted. "She'll come out soon enough."Now in its 11th season,Third Thursday is the city-sponsored block party closed off to vehicular traffic on North Street from Park Square to Linden Street/Maplewood Avenue.

Dozens of food vendors, pop-up retailers and civic organizations line the route. Several youth-based dance and musical groups performed on the Persip Park main stage,Palace Park stage as well as outside st. Joseph Church.

The Third Thursday season opener saw a new May sponsor, General Dynamics Mission Systems. One of the city's largest employers made their presence felt with a booth in the heart of the action near the main stage.

Youngsters gathered around the tables as General Dynamics representatives guided the boys and girls on how to build a bridge using plastic straws, 16-ounce plastic cups and masking tape.

Sisters Juliana and Aurora Mills from Pittsfield erected vastly different bridges with Aurora's scale model passing a strength test.

"You did a great job, it held almost a whole cup of pennies," General Dynamics Josh Runlow has he gave the 8 year old a high-five.

Bryan Stowell, who leads the company's engineering leadership program, says each Third Thursday through September, the company will engage students in various experiments to pique their interest in engineering.

"Engineering is everywhere; the cars you drive, the buildings and the roads we build," he said.

Relatively new to Third Thursday is Hotel on North and it's restaurant, Eat on North, both celebrating their second anniversary soon on North Street.

Chef Ron Reda and staff were serving pulled-pork sandwiches and coleslaw, washed down with a carbonated beverage or bottled water.

"We make our own barbecue sauce, make our own coleslaw — everything is fresh," he noted.

General Manager Paul Clark says being part of a lively downtown Pittsfield has been the mission of Hotel on North from Day 1.

"We'll come out to the street to serve the people or bring them inside," he said. "We embrace Third Thursday."

Reach staff writer Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233


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