Anoka residents and visitors held up their plastic cups of beer Wednesday as a toast to Minnesota's first-ever "social district," where adults can take their alcoholic drinks out onto certain public streets.

Michelle Dosch of Andover, who was walking through Riverfront Memorial Park with a spicy margarita from the nearby Casa Rio restaurant, said she is excited to see the results of the civic experiment.

"I think it's great for the community, to try and figure out what is going to work down around here, and if it will be a positive thing," Dosch said. "I think Anoka has a lot of foot traffic already, but I always like trying something new."

Wednesday was the debut of the social district — a section of downtown that relaxes laws prohibiting open consumption of alcohol in most public spaces. The city held a ribbon-cutting event to mark the occasion.

The district includes the area roughly along E. Main and Jackson streets from the Rum River to 3rd Avenue, and along 2nd Avenue from Main to Harrison streets.

More than 100 people filled Riverfront Memorial Park for the inaugural outing. Many carried plastic cups labeled to indicate they came from the social district. State Sen. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, told the crowd he thinks other Minnesota cities will be quick to follow suit.

"Let's make it work, use your heads; I don't think we'll be drinking more, but we'll have more people enjoying Anoka, making new friends and building up what Anoka is all about," Abeler said.

Debbie Stangeland, walking with her husband, said she thinks it will create an atmosphere akin to an outdoor festival.

"It's going to feel more like the State Fair, something where you can just walk around with a drink and enjoy it," Stangeland said.

Bar owners and businesses interviewed were more hesitant to assign praise. Several said they want to see if there are any issues with it at first.

"I think there are going to be some kinks to work out, especially when it's every day for 12 hours," said Brandon Stott, manager for 201 Tavern & Grill.

201 Tavern owner Gloria Nelson said it could be a challenge for bars to deal with customers entering carrying outside drinks, which is prohibited.

Jesse Hauf, owner of 10K Brewing, said he thinks people will enjoy the ability to sample beverages from multiple establishments and sit together in the outdoor parklets downtown. "Not everybody is a beer-drinker. ... But now the whole group can sit at the same table and enjoy it together," he said.

Patrons are not allowed to bring their drinks from another establishment inside a different one. Businesses that don't serve food or drinks had the option of whether to participate and let those carrying alcoholic drinks inside.

Following the ribbon-cutting, Pete Turok, president of the Anoka Area Chamber of Commerce, said those involved with the social district will review it after Oct. 7, and that if it goes well they will run it for a full season May through October.

"Along with that goal of getting more people here, that should hopefully turn into more commerce for every business; whether it be a bar, restaurant, one of our antique stores or one of the many boutiques we have," Turok said.