Hancock County

As Second Saturday rolls, Bay St. Louis awaits fate of 'go cup' ordinance

BAY ST. LOUIS -- The line inside the Mockingbird Cafe on Saturday evening stretched from the coffee bar toward the front entrance. June 11 was Second Saturday in the Bay, a monthly soiree when most downtown businesses stay open later and the streets are filled with hundreds of people taking advantage of live music and specials at some of the shops.

But Bay St. Louis is a sociable town and many Second Saturday attendees spend the evening visiting with friends as they hop among shops and restaurants.

Second Saturday is an established institution in the Bay and it's not going away any time soon. For many of the business owners, June 11 was an important Second Saturday -- it was the last one before the City Council votes on whether to allow people to take alcohol into the streets in what's known around as here as "go cups."

Bay St. Louis is one of several Coast cities wrangling with the "go cup law," a bill recently passed by state legislators that allows consumers to take alcohol with them as they stroll around certain districts. Gulfport and Long Beach governments have voted to designate districts where go cups will be allowed.

The council will vote on the ordinance Tuesday, June 21.

Mayor Les Fillingame said he is cautiously optimistic the ordinance will pass in the Bay.

"I think that it will pass, but I can't say for certain," he said. "We had two public hearings on it and it was split down the middle, so who knows how it will go."

Fillingame said the biggest debate is where to allow the portable alcohol.

"We're looking to do it in the downtown area and in the depot area," he said.

Martha Whitney Butler, director of The Arts, Hancock County and owner of the home and garden store the French Potager, said she would like to see an ordinance pass.

"I think it's a great idea and I think it will be great for things like Second Saturday," she said. "It will also be good for the bars."

Although Bohemian Gallery owner Kathleen Johnson didn't say she was outright against the ordinance, she said it could create some unforeseen legal issues.

"It puts me in a tough spot because our insurance does not allow any alcohol in the building," Johnson said, "I don't want to have to be the person that tells customers they can't bring alcohol in my gallery, so it's put us in a predicament."

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