The alleged parking lot fight toward the end of Wednesday's Fourth of July Parade in downtown Pittsfield brings to mind the melee that erupted as Third Thursday events were coming to end downtown nearly two months ago. Both incidents are regrettable, but neither is of any relevance when it comes to the celebrations that enliven Pittsfield's vibrant downtown.
The two men charged in the incident in the parking lot of the Family Dollar store at 631 North Street were released on personal recognizance after their arraignment Thursday. A knife was allegedly brandished during the dispute which sent bystanders scattering according to police. There is no denying that Pittsfield has crime issues, a problem affecting cities large and small all over New England and the Northeast, and here was an example.
There is also no denying that the annual Fourth of July Parade is a good indicator of the community's spirit. With the downtown revival of the last several years, more restaurants and other businesses on North Street and neighboring streets are open during the parade, and their open doors contribute to the festivity of the parade. The parade is more than a Pittsfield spectacle, as it attracts participants and spectators from all over the region who likely come away pleased following an enjoyable experience in the city
Since the May Third Thursday melee involving more than 100 people as well as police officers from Pittsfield and surrounding communities, June's Third Thursday celebration was held successfully with no incidents. The successful Third Thursday celebration is the inspiration for the First Friday Arts Walk, which will be going on today from 5 to 8 p.m. (The arts walk is officially held "up street," which is the organizer's tribute to the traditional Pittsfield word for downtown.) These events are not only more indicative of what downtown has become than crime is, they contribute to the process of reducing it by demonstrating that downtown is a lively and safe place to be.