Parks Suspends Alcohol in Parks Pilot Program Effective Today

Montgomery Parks has suspended the park pilot program allowing alcohol consumption without a permit in 13 county parks, effective today (July 1), officials announced.

The action is due to the governor lifting the Maryland state of emergency declared in reaction to the COVID–19 pandemic. That also takes effect today.

The pilot was part of the Picnic in the Park initiative to promote local restaurants in which nine county parks were designated with areas set aside for picnickers. The program was launched in August 2020 in a partnership with Visit Montgomery and expanded to allow alcohol in September.

Four more parks were added to the program later that year. Locally, parks in the program were Acorn Urban Park, Carroll Knolls Local Park, Ellsworth Urban Park, Flower Avenue Urban Park, Jesup Blair Urban Park and Takoma Urban Park.

“While the program was in effect, we had no reported alcohol-related incidents or calls for service in our 13 pilot parks and parks patrons enjoyed the ability to eat and drink outdoors with friends and family,” Mike Riley, director of Montgomery Parks, said in a press release. “We were happy that parks were able to play a role in supporting local businesses and provide a safe outlet for social interaction.”

Responding to a question on Twitter, Councilmember Hans Riemer (D-At Large) also tied today’s action to the powers granted during the emergency that are no longer in effect.

“Parks is strongly committed to the program and researching options now,” he added.

In addition, Councilmember Evan Glass (D-At Large) reacted to the news on Twitter by offering to buy a beer to the state lawmaker “who introduces legislation that allow us to modernize our parks system.”

Photo from Cory Van Horn (Visit Montgomery)

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