Picnicking on the Promenade

By CHARLES TREPANY| Teenagers laughing over a game of Apples to Apples. Parents showing their children how to toss a bean bag. Store employees enjoying their lunch break under a bright blue umbrella.

Such are the sights and sounds of the fourth annual Picnic on the Promenade, a weekly outdoor summer event organized by Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. and recurring until Aug. 31.

Every Friday from noon to 4 p.m., passersby on the north block of the Third Street Promenade can find classic games – like cornhole, ping pong, giant Jenga, tic-tac-toe and Apples to Apples – to enjoy for free. Although the games are available only on Friday afternoons, the colorful tables, chairs and umbrellas stay out for visitors to enjoy Monday through Friday.

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Downtown Santa Monica’s senior marketing and communication manager Kevin Herrera said the goal is to allow visitors to make the space their own.

“It gives locals as well as visitors another reason to visit downtown and to really enjoy the Promenade as the community’s living room,” he said. “You can shop, dine, enjoy the beautiful weather and just hang out and watch our performers and people watch as folks come through the area.”

On Friday nights from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., visitors can enjoy free performances from the Promenade’s most established street performers invited by Downtown Santa Monica, Inc.

“We really pride ourselves on having a really diverse and talented group of street performers on Third Street Promenade, so we really strive our best to highlight that talent,” Herrera said. “It’s all organic talent. Every week we’ll have different acts.”

On Wednesday nights from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Picnic on the Promenade becomes Ping Pong on the Promenade. Also free to visitors, this event includes PongFit representatives who organize ping pong matches, offer tips on technique and spread awareness about the game.

Former Santa Monica resident Vetzy Ferreira said the games at Picnic on the Promenade appeal to all ages.

“I’m taking care of the kids, and the parents are shopping,” she said. “They’re great for kids because you can entertain them while other people go shopping.”

Belgium tourist Maxim Demoor said the games at Picnic on the Promenade were a nice way for him to relax during his visit.

“We started with Ping Pong,” he said. “It’s a very nice idea, and the weather is also nice. It’s cool.”

Herrera said the best part about Picnic on the Promenade is how it brings families together.

“For me personally, it’s just seeing all the people enjoying the space, whether it’s little kids or adults,” Herrera said. “It seems that the atmosphere brings out the kid in all of us.”

For more information head to: www.downtownsm.com

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