WARREN - Games and activities will fill Courthouse Square on Saturdays for the next two months in hopes of filling the downtown area with something else - people.
Free art classes, games, chess lessons and other offerings will be part of ''Saturdays on the Square,'' presented by Main Street Warren.
Paul Clouser, who lives downtown and owns National Fire & Water Repair, said, ''People love to come downtown for the concerts (at the Warren Community Amphitheatre) and then they run back out again. We wanted to make it so you could come down early and do a few things before you go to the show, to try to make more of a complete day."
George Piscsalko, president of Main Street Warren, said part of the inspiration for Saturdays on the Square came from a trip Main Street members took to Canton for its monthly festivities called First Fridays.
''They get a couple thousand people,'' Piscsalko said. ''What can we do here in Warren that will get people into our square?''
The first week Saturdays on the Square will include games such as bocce, cornhole, croquet and Frisbee organized by the Trumbull County YMCA from 3 to 5 p.m. and free chess lessons for children (and a giant eye-catching chess board) from Chess Is Life, also from 3 to 5 p.m.
Trumbull Art Gallery, or TAG, will offer different free art classes each week with classes for children ages 4 to 12 at 1 p.m. and for teens ages 13 and older at 2 p.m. For adults there will be Happy Hour Painting from 5 to 6 p.m. The cost is $25, which includes all necessary art supplies, instruction and two drink tokens. Pat Galgozy of TAG said the first happy hour class probably will meet at the Clouser Building on West Market Street, but future classes will incorporate downtown bars and restaurants.
Driving potential customers to downtown businesses is another goal of the programming.
''People will see downtown, get a taste of it, maybe visit some of the shops they may not even know are down there,'' Piscsalko said. ''The goal here is to maybe create some sort of movement around this, make it bigger and better. We'll listen to the people who come down, see what they want and go from there.''
Clouser said, ''It's not going to be the same weekend every weekend, that's for sure.''
Clouser said he wants the activities to change what he believes is an unfair characterization that the only people seen on the Square are the homeless and the destitute.
''Warren is a really good place, and the downtown is a beautiful area,'' he said. ''I've never had problems down there walking in the park. It's a matter of getting people to see the reality beyond their prejudices at this point.''