Who doesn’t love a parade? With the possible exception of the screaming fire engine sirens (which we hear more than enough of at our place and don’t need to go out to hear), it’s pretty tough to have a bad parade. All you need are some animals, a band or two, and smiling kids and you’re set.
Today, the first festival of the Christmas season in Chattanooga took place. It’s called Mainx24 because it’s focused on trying to make Chattanooga a 24-hour city.
I don’t really see that happening this decade, but it’s nice that it happens once a year. Plus, it’s a celebration of the city’s South side, which is a neighborhood in transition.
Having witnessed the transition of some of the neighborhoods in Columbus that were perceived as the “worst” into hot spots of historical preservation, celebration of the arts, and community gathering, I have a special fondness for transition.
A few decades ago, my mother ran a preschool in one such neighborhood before its transition began. On days when I didn’t have school but she did, I would go with her and “help.”
The neighborhood seemed slightly terrifying to me at that time. It was full of old, victorian homes with boarded up windows that threatened to throw pieces of themselves at me if I ventured too close. Not that I wandered far–there were always people wandering the streets that, in my innocence, seemed threatening. In retrospect, I would guess they were harmless homeless people, but I had never actually seen homeless people before then. Sometimes they stumbled around, obviously drunk. I had also never seen drunk people, so I had no idea why they behaved oddly.
Decrepit historical houses were purchased by the city and sold for $1 to buyers who could demonstrate their ability to restore them. It was an amazingly successful project. That same neighborhood is now known as Victorian Village and is one of the more expensive parts of Columbus to live in.
The restoration of this area became contagious. Soon, the near-by neighborhood now known as the Short North started changing. The buildings facing High St were gradually restored and turned into trendy art galleries, restaurants, music venues, and shops. New buildings in historical styles started to appear with high-end apartments and condos.
The two areas met in the middle, although there is still a mix of the unrestored (and affordable) with the beautifully appointed, fully restored historical mansions.
Chattanooga’s South Side doesn’t seem to have too many mansions. It was mostly an industrial area before its transition began. But from the size of the crowd drawn to today’s festival, it’s definitely a place people want to be.
I think adopting New Orleans-parade tradition in tossing candy (and even the occasional beads) to children was a brilliant way to guarantee all the kids will be clamoring to come back again next year.