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Columbus Commons Blog

A Day at the Commons

 There are hundreds of reasons people from near and far head over to John F. Wolfe Columbus Commons for Food Truck Food Court on Thursdays.

 Geri Matiasek came from Chicago to get in her steps.

 Elaine Welsh was on emergency babysitting duty and needed something fun to do with Benny, her 16-month-old grandnephew.

 Jon Saphire and Andy Maxson were ordered by a Franklin County judge to walk over to the park and have lunch. Sort of.

 “We’ve been on jury duty all week,” Saphire said, adding the two had lunch at Dempsey’s and Katzinger’s earlier in the week. “But today, everyone at the courthouse was talking about the food trucks, and the bailiff and the judge kept telling us we should go.”

 And when the judge makes a suggestion…

 Saphire had the grilled cheese with brisket from the Paddy Wagon, and Maxson went with a hot dog with sauerkraut and an order of cheese fries from the Angry Weiner. Other choices from the 10 food trucks included Hawaiian street food, paella bowls, Korean BBQ, fried chicken, plenty of pitas and even roasted Brussels and watermelon with feta.

 “It’s really good,” Saphire said of his meaty & savory grilled cheese.

 “We’ll have to go to Jeni’s,” Maxson said of the nearby – and permanent - Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams stand in the Commons.

 Matiasek’s daughter was in town for a seminar at the nearby Westin Columbus, and mom tagged along to explore Downtown Columbus for the first time.

 “I like a place where you can walk and you can sure walk here,” she said of Downtown Columbus. Matiasek had already walked to German Village, where she scouted out restaurants for her daughter and her colleagues. Matiasek also visited the famous and massive Book Loft bookstore. “Wow, it was amazing, sensory overload,” she said.

 Matiasek had walked along the river and across the bridge to COSI, and stopped and stared at the National Veterans Memorial & Museum under construction. “It will be gorgeous, unbelievable,” she said, adding she planned to walk back over to the Scioto Mile in two days for the Jazz & Ribfest.

 “I walked 17,000 steps on Tuesday, 13,000 on Wednesday and … (she stopped and checked her exercise tracker) … only a mere 9,000 today, but it’s only noon.”

 Welsh works at a downtown law firm and is a frequent Commons visitor/walker/luncher. So, when her niece called and said she had an unexpected appointment, “I said, I know exactly what we can do,” Welsh said.

She took Benny to the Commons, where they played some games on the grass, rode on the carousel and ran around with the abandon and delight of a 16-month-old having a great time.

 “I think we might get some ice cream,” Welsh said after the carousel ride, and the “might” quickly turned into a “will.” Was there ever a doubt?

 Welsh said she and some friends planned to come back to the Commons in the evening for Downtown Live! “Reaganomics is playing (as one of the opening acts) and they played at the wedding reception of Benny’s parents,” she said. “They’re great.”

 To continue our theme of a Day at the Commons…

 There are hundreds of reasons people from near and far head over to the Commons for Downtown Live!, a series of four & free Thursday night concerts in July.

 Tony and Yani came from Westerville because, well, they always come to the concerts on the Commons. They brought a table, flowers and a chandelier that they set up on “our spot.”

 Mark Dempsey came to surprise his wife.

 Johnel Amerson was there to enjoy “all the free, family fun.”

 Amerson came from Gahanna with her two children, as well as her sister and her two kids. The kids played soccer with each other, and a growing group of kids who quickly joined in the fun.

 “I like exposing them to the music and all the artistry and I like that they can meet and play with such a diversity of families and children, that’s important” Amerson said, adding she’s a veteran of concerts on the Commons and has developed a brilliant strategy for keeping her children under control. “We come early, so they can run around and let off some steam. And then, by the time the headliner goes on, they’re tired and can sit and enjoy the concert.”

 Dempsey is the Dempsey of Dempsey’s restaurant, which is located near the Commons. He and his wife, Megan, attend several concerts in the park.

 “Megan loves Conspiracy,” Dempsey said of the headliners that evening. It was her birthday, her 50th, he’s a good husband, likes a good party and…

 “I wanted to throw her a surprise party downtown and this is the best way and the best place to do it,” he said, as he stood by the large tent at the edge of the Commons that was filled with 50 or 60 of Megan’s friends and family. “Our daughters did most of the work.”

 Megan arrived about 15 minutes before Conspiracy took the stage and …

 She was indeed surprised, a bit overwhelmed and very happy.

 Tony and her husband, Yani, have been coming to concerts on the Commons since, well, they began in 2011.

 “We enjoy a beautiful event and a beautiful place,” Tony said.

 “And we like the music,” Yani said, adding they also attend the Picnic with the Pops concerts.

 “We love Conspiracy,” Tony said. “We saw them at a wedding reception a few years ago.”

 A little while later, after Reaganomics got the crowd up and moving with their 80s covers, Conspiracy took the stage. The big band (about 15 members, including a full horn section) brought some Motown, R & B and a little funk to Bicentennial Pavilion. Lots and lots of children and adults were soon on their feet, clapping, dancing and having a great time.

 So, you know, just another day and night on the Commons!

 Click here to view all the events on John F. Wolfe Columbus Commons, including the upcoming Food Truck Food Courts on Thursday, as well as all the concerts and Commons for Kids events.