PITTSFIELD — A shortened, tobacco-free Third Thursday highlights a revamped 10th season of lively outdoor entertainment, dining and family fun that's drawn tens of thousands of people downtown for nearly a decade.
The city-sponsored monthly block party begins Thursday with the traditional kick-off youth theme in May, with several student-based performing arts and musical groups headlining the entertainment portion of the program.
However, Third Thursday will wrap up in September as organizers have dropped the October event due to a lack of interest, according to Pittsfield's Cultural Development Director Jen Glockner.
"There's been a huge attrition in vendors as many pull out by October and it's the least attended one of the six," Glockner said. "From vendors to performers and many businesses, this is a no-brainer."
Instead, key elements of the October Third Thursday are being rolled into Harvest Festival scheduled for Oct. 15 in conjunction with the final outdoor Downtown Pittsfield Farmers Market at The Common on First Street.
Glockner noted the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk will be held that morning and Greylock Federal Credit Union returns as sponsor of the children's Halloween costume parade around The Common.
The other significant change is the pedestrian-friendly Third Thursday held on North Street from Park Square to Maplewood Avenue will be tobacco-free, expanding beyond last year's trial run of a smoking ban in the play/family section that required little enforcement.
"It did so well in the family zone as parents would tell others not to smoke," Glockner said.
This marks the second consecutive revision of Third Thursday. Last year's overhaul included the designation of the refurbished Persip Park as the permanent main stage. Closed to vehicular traffic, the blocked-off section of North Street for Third Thursday was divided into three distinct themes: relax, play, create.
From Park Square to Columbus, people can relax at cafe tables on North Street by dining on a variety of prepared food while enjoying live music and entertainment.
The children and family section between Columbus and Union Street will feature opportunities for youngsters and adults to play, do arts and crafts and partake of food vendors.
The creative section from Union to Maplewood is highlighted by interactive art projects and activities.
Among Thursday's youth performers Youth Alive, Kids 4 Harmony, Cantarella School of Dance, musical ensembles from Reid Middle and Taconic High schools, Rock On; Hillcrest Drummers and Berkshire Pulse with Aimee Gelinas,.
For the second year in a row, Third Thursday will extend a bit south of North Street with live music and a chef station outside the Crowne Plaza on South Street.
Another staple of the May Third Thursday is the Minds Matter fundraising walk for the Berkshire County chapter of The National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Registration begins at 5 p.m. at Persip Park at the corner of Columbus Avenue and North Street; the walk steps off at 5:30 p.m., traveling the length of the festival and back. For information, go online at www.namibc.org.
Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233.
If you go ...
What: Third Thursday season opener, with youth theme
When: 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday
Where: Downtown Pittsfield
Highlights: Kids 4 Harmony, musical ensembles from Reid Middle School, Taconic High School, Youth Alive highlight young people performances; opening reception for the annual Art in our Schools show, Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, Renne Avenue; Berkshire NAMI Minds Matter fundraising walk.