Community picnic at Armory Square

Marietta’s Armory Square will be the location of a community picnic and celebration honoring the U.S. Armed Forces, and the Citizens Armory Preservation Society Saturday.

“We’ve wanted to do something for some time, thanking CAPS for their longtime support of the armory’s preservation,” said Jane Tumas-Serna, president of Armory Square, Inc., the umbrella organization formed by combining the CAPS and Friends of the Armory support groups.

She said CAPS was formed in the early 1990s by a group of individuals who wanted to preserve the armory after the Ohio National Guard decided to close operations at the facility and sold the 1914-era building to the city of Marietta.

The building is currently undergoing renovations with plans for a partial opening of the facility that will include a tourist information center, bus ticket office and city council chambers next fall.

In addition, Tumas-Serna said the Washington County Veterans Services Commission would be dedicating five new granite benches, one for each branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, that are being placed around the Veterans Walk of Honor on the north side of Armory Square.

“That’s a very important part of the Armory Square development as the veterans services have been extremely supportive of the armory preservation over the last five or six years,” Tumas-Serna said. “And they’ll be leasing a satellite office at Armory Square when the renovations are completed there.”

The Veteran Service Commission is made up of representatives from the local Veterans of foreign Wars, American Legion, Disabled Veterans of America, AMVETS, and Military Order of the Purple Heart.

Tumas-Serna said the granite benches are engraved with the names of the five military services, including the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard.

Marietta Councilman Harley Noland, who chairs council’s lands, buildings and parks committee, said the Fourth of July weekend also seemed to be a good time to invite everyone to a community event celebrating the opening of a new public picnic area located along the Muskingum River behind the armory building.

“There will be eight new picnic tables seating eight people each that can be used by anyone in the downtown area, including bus tours and visiting school children who often have to sit on the ground to have a picnic lunch,” he said. “The Fourth of July weekend is a time when families get together, so we thought it would be a good time to use those picnic facilities.”

Noland said the tables and other items were purchased with a Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) last year, partly with the intention of providing a picnic area below the River Trail that runs between the armory and the Muskingum.

“There’s always a cool river breeze, which makes it perfect for a picnic area, and this will also provide a place where downtown employees can take their lunch,” he said.

Tumas-Serna said Saturday’s free celebration will take place from noon to 2 p.m. and everyone in the community is invited to bring a salad or dessert to share at the picnic. Hot dogs, sides and drinks will be provided.