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Alcohol Allowed In The Plaza
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Drinking will be allowed in the Plaza Del Rio - for special events.

Riverbank City Council members introduced an ordinance on Aug. 24 to allow alcohol in the park that is now under construction downtown, but only if a non-profit or community group hosts the event and obtains a permit from the city.

Patrons of a play put on by Riverbank Community Theater, for example, or some event staged by the Rotary Club could purchase wine or beer to consume there. Private parties, however, having a wedding or 50th anniversary celebration could not serve or sell alcohol there.

The vote of approval was 3-1 with Vice Mayor Dave White in opposition.

While the consumption of alcohol is basically forbidden in the city parks, the current ordinance already allows alcohol in the Community Center, Scout Hall and other specified areas during the Cheese & Wine Exposition. Users are required to obtain permits from the city and provide security depending on the type of event and number of guests.

But the city wants to mark completion of the downtown revitalization project with a community celebration at the Plaza Del Rio on Sept. 25 and some residents feel the presence of alcohol might add to this and subsequent festivities at the new park.

To serve alcohol at the Plaza, hosts must secure a permit or agreement from the Chief of Police or Director of Parks & Recreation, who may require security officers or site monitors.

In voting against the ordinance, White said he couldn't see allowing alcohol in the Plaza would benefit the city in any way.

"It's just another beer garden," he said. "We already have one at the Cheese and Wine Expo. It will be too open. It should be kept in a confined space."

Fencing off an area would destroy the esthetics of the park, he added.

But with the vote of council in favor, the alcohol can flow to help as the City of Riverbank celebrates the completion of the downtown beautification project at a free grand reopening event on Friday, Sept 25. The event is scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and will be held at Third and Santa Fe streets and on the stage of the new Plaza Del Rio.

The evening will feature music, dance, a car show, street performers, and more. The Plaza Del Rio was the catalyst for the beautification project, which incorporates the concept of a river and water fountain, along with a stage for live music and theatrical presentations.

The event is sponsored in part by the Riverbank Chamber of Commerce, Rio Arts, Riverbank Community Theater and Images of Distinction.

The evening's program runs as follows:

5:30 p.m. - The event begins with a welcome from Rich Holmer as emcee.

6:30 p.m. - The grand opening presentation with ribbon cutting and dedication of Del Rio Plaza, complete with artist Betty Saletta and the unveiling of the Ferryboatman.

7 p.m. - Joni Morris sings for your enjoyment.

8 p.m. - Ballet Folklorico performs their colorful dances of Mexico.

8:15 p.m. - Joni Morris again brings her music to the stage.

9 p.m. - Prize drawings to close out the evening.