A few adults arranged elementary school-aged kids in yogic poses on the vast, ground-level stage as I unscrewed the top of the pocket-sized bottle. Wind gently pushed at my back, massaging the undulating and colorful mesh-like sculpture piece overhead, as a family with several small children walked by and a woman zoned out at a table nearby, lost in her cone of vanilla soft-serve.
Nobody seemed to notice that I was drinking alcohol, straight from the bottle actually, without so much as a paper bag or Koozie to conceal it. And if anyone realized I was brazenly consuming alcohol in a public park before 5 p.m. on a work day, a mere dozen yards from an active playground, they certainly didn’t care.
Much has been said about the unveiling of Greensboro’s LeBauer Park last week. And rightly so. From the ping-pong tables to the dog park to the cushioned playground area, the new downtown park is a sight to behold, a real coup for the city and not just because of the signature Janet Echelman piece claiming its space in the sky. In comparison to these features, it makes sense that we’ve all overlooked something significant and cool as hell about LeBauer; you can drink there.
The two restaurant kiosks, featuring the stalwart Ghassan’s and rookie-of-the-year Noma, both sell beer and wine. They won’t open it for you, and you can’t bring your own into the park — so no forties or flasks, I’m afraid — but if you buy booze from one of the restaurants, you’re allowed to drink it in the park. As in anywhere on the grounds of the massive new open area, stretching from Davie Street all the way back to the Central Library. Drink while your corgi runs wild in the dog pen, drink while you cuddle at a movie night on the lawn, drink while you play foosball, drink while your kids climb the mini rock wall.
I felt a little incredulous at this news, so I tested it out. I snagged a 187mL bottle of rosé from Portuguese maker Casal Garcia at Ghassan’s — the cheapest at either spot at under $5 — and pulled a colorful folding chair onto the shade of the park’s main lawn. Nobody looked twice.
I bet they would’ve if I bought a bag of Bonfire pinot grigio from Ghassan’s — the $28 menu item is equivalent to two bottles of wine — and opened it on the green, but nobody could’ve done squat about it.
Not that I’d advise doing that solo; that’s a lot of wine, and I don’t encourage you to try and get hammered in the park or push the limits too much, lest these rules be changed. Instead, buy the bag with a couple friends when LeBauer holds Sunday jazz picnics starting on Aug. 28, or pick something off Noma’s summery beer list that includes Westbrook’s White Thai, Lonerider’s Shotgun Betty or Bell’s Oarsman Ale. There are two hard seltzers at Ghassan’s, as well as Bud Light and sparkling wine.
It may be too hot to sit out like I did in the late afternoon blaze, even with a refreshing and cold rosé. Good thing LeBauer’s open late, and it isn’t going anywhere.
Visit LeBauer Park in downtown Greensboro next to the Greensboro Cultural Center and Center City Park.
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