The Hippo


Jun 2, 2020








Enjoying a summer lunch in the park. Courtesy photo.

Picnic in Veterans Park

When: Wednesday, Aug. 12, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: Veterans Park, 889 Elm St., Manchester
Rain date is Wed., Aug. 19. No registration required

Lunch in Veterans Park
Chamber hosts picnic in downtown Manchester

By Allie Ginwala

When the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce started its Lunch in the Park series in 2013, the idea was to encourage the downtown community to take a break for a nice meal outdoors. This year, instead of hosting a handful of smaller lunches, the chamber decided to go all out with one big picnic in Veterans Park on Wednesday, Aug. 12, with food and drink vendors, yoga, live music and more.

“There are so many great things that are happening, and we want to keep up the momentum and keep people in the parks and using them,” Lauren Kannenberg, member communications manager for the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said in a phone interview. “We’ve gotten to the point where the police department and parks and recreation have really improved the park. It’s beautiful.”
In recent years, the chamber’s downtown committee focused on turning around the negative activity seen in Manchester’s parks by starting events like Picnic in the Park. 
“I think the chamber of commerce had to talk about bringing in events to get rid of the negative incidents happening in the park and I think this year is totally different,” Norri Oberlander, downtown committee member for the chamber, said in a phone interview. 
The past two summers the event was geared toward cleaning up the park and making it a positive place for the downtown community, but this year it’s time to celebrate the grassy green space in the middle of downtown. 
“Our downtown committee is really focused on bettering the downtown community and improving it and seeing positive activity and also kind of being a voice for the community as well,” Kannenberg said. “This was an initiative they started.”
Oberlander owns the Pembroke Building that overlooks the park, which makes it “near and dear to her heart.” She said it’s rare to have such a gem like this in a downtown area and that nearby companies and businesses should use it as a place to spend a lunch break.
A new feature added to the picnic this year is the option to buy lunch in the park, as three local eateries will bring food and refreshments. Ipswich Clambake will have items like woodfired pizza and lobster rolls, Ben & Jerry’s will bring ice cream and JD’s Tavern will have fresh squeezed lemonade. 
“The first year we encouraged people to get boxed lunches downtown, and last year it was bring your own lunch, so we felt like we needed a little of both,” Kannenberg said. “Some people do bring their lunch to work every day … and others purchase lunch every day, so we thought it would make it a little different to bring the food to the park.”
One reason the chamber decided to turn the lunchtime series into a bigger, one-time event was the fact that many people have abnormal schedules in the summertime. 
“We realized that so many people are on vacation or [have] different schedules during the summer months [so] we decided to make it one day and get one really large turnout at the park so people walking by or driving by can see all of the things that could be regular activities in the park,” Kannenberg said.
The free drop-in event begins at 11 a.m. and goes until 2 p.m. A large tent will be set up, along with plenty of picnic tables and chairs (though bringing your own blanket or lawn chair is a good idea too). Yoga Balance will lead a yoga class (bring your own mat) from noon to 1 p.m. and there will be live music throughout the day. At 11:45 a.m. Oberlander, Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas and Manchester Police Chief Nick Willard will address the crowd and welcome everyone to the park.
Even if it’s just for a small chunk of time, Kannenberg said, stepping out of the office for a walk and a bite has many benefits.
“We always encourage networking, so it’s a good chance to get out and maybe make a business connection and also to just get some fresh air and re-energize,” she said.
Oberlander hopes that even for those who don’t work downtown, this event will provide an opportunity to get outside and go to the park.
“[We try to] focus on as many age groups as we can,” she said. “[There will be] a little bit of kids’ activities as well so stay-at-home moms and dads can come downtown with their kids.”
As seen in the August 6, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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