HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - You will be able to walk around an area of Downtown Hattiesburg with a beer, wine or mixed drink at the end of this month.
Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker, joined by council members and representatives from the Hattiesburg Historic Downtown Association, signed the To-Go Cup Ordinance Friday afternoon at The Thirsty Hippo.
"It really reflects where we are going as a downtown and as a city," said Barker. "We have so many young professionals who come here, so many tourists who come here and this really promotes a walkable lifestyle that's actually safer for the surrounding community."
Hattiesburg City Council approved the proposed Recreation and Leisure District last month, which allows the city to implement a boundary where restaurants and bars can sell customers an alcoholic beverage in a "to-go cup."
"To have these folks in one place downtown, I really think it's going to be a catalyst for more businesses, more neighborhoods," Barker said. "I'm looking forward to what this will bring to our city."
In 2016, House Bill 1223 was signed into law, which authorized certain municipalities in the state to establish the districts. When originally proposed, the ordinance only applied to cities on the coast, but Mayor Barker, a representative at the time, added an amendment to include any counties along the I-59 or Highway 49 corridor, which included Forrest County.
"Anytime you can see something you worked on in the legislature come to fruition, particularly now as Mayor, it's a satisfying thing," Barker said. "I think it's something any representative would do for their area, knowing the character of their own city."
It will be up to the participating restaurants or businesses to supply the to-go cup, which can be anything but glass. Andrea Saffle with the Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association said the city will also pitch in to keep the boundary clean.
"In the ordinance it states we will add some more garbage cans at each participating restaurant so as you are walking in, you have a place to dispose your cup before walking in," said Saffle.
The ordinance goes into effect Friday, September 22, 2017. Saffle said the HHDA is planning to host a pub crawl the following Saturday to celebrate the new opportunity for Hattiesburg.