downtowngreenvillegirl











(Art, The Bard, Greeks, Great Scots & a little Caribbean Crush…)

It’s still May and despite some decidedly unseasonable weather last week, it’s still one of my favorite times to be Downtown! As the flowers bloom, so does Downtown and she shows off with a whirlwind of events that’ll get you out of your house and down on Main Street! This week’s blog highlights everyone’s favorite Arts festival, some works by the Bard, party with some cool Caribbean vibes, going Greek and a lot of guys in kilts!

To art lovers, Spring means one thing…ARTISPHERE! This weekend, our fair city will play host to this exuberant celebration of the visual and performing arts. Beginning with a fancy Opening Gala at Courtyard by Marriott and Nantucket Grill on Thursday, Artisphere launches into full swing on Friday, May 10th. Featuring not only exhibits from local and regional artisans, this arts extravaganza also spotlights performances from local musicians, theatre groups, dance troupes and other performing artists. Saturday and Sunday’s festivities also include Wine Tasting, Artists’ Demonstrations and Classes, as well as fun events for the kids at Kidsphere. And, since Sunday is Mothers’ Day, this event offers an excellent array of creative gift ideas for Mom. As always, restaurant vendors will be on hand to offer a variety of choices in food, beverage, beer and wine. Hours for this festival are noon -8PM on Friday, 10AM – 8PM on Saturday, and 11AM – 6PM on Sunday. There is no admission to this event held on Main Street and Broad near Falls Park. For more information, visit http://www.Artisphere.us.

Fans of all things flamingoes and flip-flops will LOVE the South Carolina Children’s Theatre’s Annual Fundraiser, Caribbean Crush! This laid-back event featuring Caribbean steel drums, fantastic food, beach drinks and a silent auction has been the talk of the town for the past 6 years. So, don your sunglasses and Hawaiian shirts and join the other Bermuda-shorted partiers at ZEN on Friday, May 17th. The festivities go into full swing at 7PM, with tickets still available for $50 and all proceeds benefitting the many wonderful programs for children and teens the SCCT has to offer. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit http://www.scchildrenstheatre.org.

The Greeks have known how to throw a party for thousands of years and Greenville’s Grecian community proudly carries on that tradition with their annual Greek Festival. For four fun-filled days (May 16 – 19), Greenville becomes “Greekville” as St. George Greek Orthodox Church becomes a sea of all things Greek. Beginning on Thursday, May 16th, you will be able to satisfy your cravings for souvlaki, gyros and all kinds of yummy Greek pastries as lunch and dinner will be served at the Hellenic Center. Don’t have time to sit down to eat? They have drive-thru service at the Elford Street entrance, so you can get a taste of Greece in minutes. The “glendi” (that’s Greek for party) really starts up on Friday, with an assortment of food, traditional Greek dance and live music. All that dancing will leave you exhausted, so be sure to stop by the Kafenion (Greek Coffee Shop) to recharge your batteries with a steaming cup of Greek coffee and a wedge of delicious baklava, before strolling through the Marketplace to view an assortment of Mediterranean wares. The festivities continue full swing through the weekend until Sunday evening. Hours are 10:30AM to 8PM (Dining only) Thursday, 10:30AM to 10PM Friday and Saturday, and 11:30AM to 8PM Sunday. Cost of admission is only $1. For more information, visit: http://www.stgeorgegreenville.org/GreekFestival.

On Thursday, May 23, the Scots invade Downtown in true Highland fashion to rock out to the music of the Celtic band, Cleghorn (with guests, Smash the Radio and The Greenville Pipes & Drums) at Downtown Alive! Then on Friday evening, Downtown will be awash in plaid as kilted revelers stroll down Main Street in the Great Scot Parade. Starting at 6PM, the Parade, which grows larger each year, will feature pipe bands, Scottish military re-enactors, Highland themed floats, Scottish forest fairies and more tartans than you can shake a bagpipe at – all to get the weekend started Highland style! The Friday festivities will grow to a fevered pitch with a raucous “ceildh” (that’s Gaelic for party)at the Peace Center Amphitheatre, featuring the music of Rathkeltair and Albannach. Want to really release your inner Braveheart? Then join your fellow Gaelic enthusiasts at the 2013 Greenville Scottish Games at Furman on Saturday, May 25. Competition begins at 8AM with evnts such as caber-tossing and piping continuing all day. Afterwards, visit the food tents to taste such Scottish delicacies as haggis (trust me, you really DON’T want to know what’s in it) and to browse through the vendors’ tents featuring goods from the heathered isles. Once again, Saturday’s events will wind down with a rockin’ Celtic Jam. For an events schedule, to order tickets and for more information on the Scottish Games, visit: http://gallabrae.com.

If all the world is a stage, then the stage is definitely set for the Upstate Shakespeare Festival at Falls Park. Every Thursday – Sunday, beginning May 23, Downtown thespians and other fans of a fellow named Shakespeare, will have the chance to experience some of his finest works…with a twist. This season marks the 19th for the festival , which Southern Living has named one of the Best Summer events in the South and attracts over 18,000 each summer. The Festival kicks off with a modern retelling of the action-filled drama, Hamlet (which runs through June 15th) The next in the series, Comedy of Errors will open on July 11th and run through August 3rd. Performances begin at 7PM and are free and open to the public. For more information, visit http://www.warehousetheatre.com/upstate-shakespeare-festival.

So Downtownies…May is practically bursting with fun things to do in the DTGVL! So, why are you still sitting at your computer? Get yourself Downtown and enjoy all it has to offer! See you there!

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“I can truthfully say, in all my playing days … I never shirked a duty to baseball.” – Shoeless Joe Jackson

As the dogwoods start to bloom on North Main Street and the mild temps call you to Falls Park, the West End comes alive with the sounds of cheering crowds and the distinctive “CRACK” of baseball bats. When the Greenville Drive’s 2013 season opens Thursday, April 4th, it will be the latest chapter in this city’s rich baseball history. For more than a century, Greenville has been involved in a deeply committed love affair with “America’s Game”.

Long before The Drive…or even the G-Braves…came to town, the surrounding mill towns and their baseball teams had already given us local heroes whose prowess at bat was the stuff of legends. Undoubtedly the greatest of these near-mythical figures was Joe Jackson. Dubbed “Shoeless Joe” by fans, this humble man started his extraordinary baseball career right here in Greenville. The son of a sharecropper, Joe first went to work in textile mills as a child. As a young teen, he was recruited to join the mill’s baseball team as its youngest player. First positioned as a pitcher, Joe was quickly moved to left field, the position he would play for the rest of his career, after his massive fastball actually broke another player’s arm. But it was at bat that Joe really made his mark. Swinging his beloved “Black Betsy”, Joe set record after record – many of which stll stand today. His remarkable talent soon caught the eye of major league scouts. After playing with several professional teams, Joe was signed by the Chicago White Sox in 1915. Over the next four seasons, he became Chicago’s favorite sports hero, leading the league in batting statistics and winning the admiration of fans and fellow players alike. Babe Ruth even modeled his batting style after Joe’s and Ty Cobb said Joe was “the finest natural hitter in the history of the game”. Joe’s legend began to crumble when he and seven of his teammates were accused of “throwing’ the 1919 World Series in what became known as the “Black Sox Scandal”. Despite the fact that Jackson had 12 hits (a Series record), a .375 batting average (the best of both teams) committed no errors, and he and the other seven were acquitted of fraud charges, the “Chicago Eight” were banned from baseball for life by Commissioner Kennesaw Landis. He never played professional baseball again after the 1920 season. After residing in various towns throughout the South, Joe returned to Greenville in 1933 where he and his wife opened a liquor store. Jackson remained a beloved citizen of his hometown until his death in 1951. He is buried next to his wife, Katie, in Greenville’s Woodlawn Memorial Park. Shoeless Joe continues to be a hero to baseball fans all over the world. He still hold franchise records for both the Indians and the White Sox for both triples in a season and career batting average. He was a pivotal character in the films “Eight Men Out” and “Field of Dreams”. In 1999, he was #35 on “The Sporting News'” list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players and was chosen by MLB fans as the 12th best outfielder of all time. Yet, despite vast amounts of evidence proclaiming his innocence and numerous pleas from fans, Greenville citizens, professional ball players and even members of Congress, Shoeless Joe continues to be blacklisted from baseball, thus preventing his well-deserved inclusion in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The house where Joe spent his final years can be visited by fans today. In 2006, his modest home was dismantled and moved from its original site on Wilburn Avenue to its current location on Field Street, across from Fluor Field, to become the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Baseball Library. The house number was changed to 356 to reflect Jackson’s lifetime batting average. The not-for-profit museum displays records, photographs, films and personal artifacts from Joe’s baseball career and historic life. An impressive collection of books pertaining to baseball and its place in American culture, were mostly donated by baseball enthusiasts and are now housed in the room which once held Joe’s trophies. The admission to this poignant museum is free (although donations are greatly appreciated). It is open Saturdays from 10AM to 2PM.

More of Shoeless Joe’s legacy in Greenville is found Downtown. A life-size statue, depicting Joe in his White Sox uniform, swinging for the bleachers, can be seen outside the West End Market in Shoeless Joe Jackson Plaza. The statue was created in the lobby of City Hall in full view of visitors and locals alike. Artist Doug Young made this piece a true community project, allowing guests to participate in the creation of the work by kneading the clay used in the sculpture. The work was unveiled on July 13, 2002 in a ceremony attended by over 700 people. In West Greenville, just off Shoeless Joe Memorial Highway, is the Shoeless Joe Memorial Park. Once part of the thriving Brandon Mill community (Jackson’s childhood home), this 8 acre park property features a lighted baseball field, dugouts, a playground and picnic shelters and is located near where Joe played baseball as a boy.

When the Greenville Drive takes the field this spring, fans will have the chance to take part in Greenville’s historic baseball legacy. Since their 2005 move to Greenville, this Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox has been embraced by baseball fans and non-fans alike. Their home stadium at Fluor Field shares dimensions with their parent club’s major league field at Fenway Park. It even boasts its own “Green Monster” – complete with a manual scoreboard just like the original, and “Pesky’s Pole” in right field. Fluor Field was named “Ballpark of the Year” in 2006 by Baseballparks.com – beating out such legendary stadiums as St. Louis’ Busch Stadium. Although many fans lobbied to have the team name changed to “The Greenville Joes” in honor of our city’s favorite son, the name “Greenville Drive” reflects Greenville’s automotive history and ties to the industry through BMW and Michelin.

So join us Downtown to cheer on the home team and while you’re there, take in some of Greenville’s incredible baseball history. What could be more All-American? GO DRIVE!

For more info…
Greenville Drive: Greenville’s Class A minor league team opens their season on April 4th, with home games at Fluor Field also taking place at 7PM the 5th & 6th and a 4PM game on Sunday the 7th. Tickets are available for $7-$9 in advance or $8-$10 at the gate. For a full schedule, statistics and a team roster, visit http://www.milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t428

Shoeless Joe Jackson: To learn more about the amazing life and career of Greenville’s favorite baseball legend, visit http://www.shoelessjoejackson.com/

Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Baseball Library: This wonderful museum, in Jackson’s former home, is open Saturdays, 10AM – 2PM. Admission is free, but donations are greatly appreciated. It is located on Field Street, across from Fluor Field. For more information, visit: http://www.shoelessjoejackson.org

Shoeless Joe’s Gravesite: Joe and his wife, Katie, are buried at Woodlawn Memorial Park, located at the corner of Wade Hampton Boulevard and Pleasantburg Drive in Greenville. To locate the grave, turn at the first right after entering the cemetery, then bear left at the “Y”. Stop approximately 30 feet short of the next intersection and look along the left curb for the Landers plot. Joe’s grave is marked with a flat marker 9 rows behind Landers. If you cannot find it, ask employees in the Administrative Office and they will show you.

Shoeless Joe Jackson Statue: This life-size statue of Joe is located in Shoeless Joe Jackson Plaza beside the West End Market. For more information, visit http://www.greenvillesc.gov/Culture/ArtinPublicPlaces/Shoeless.htm

Shoeless Joe Memorial Park: Located in West Greenville’s historic Brandon Mill Community, this recreation park features a lighted baseball park and dugouts. For more information, visit: http://greenvillerec.com/parks/4/shoeless-joe/



Well, March is upon us and Downtown Greenville is starting look even more GREEN than usual! For the Irish and the “wish they were Irish” this is the most wonderful time of the year! And Downtown has plenty of ways for even the youngest “wee ones” to join in on the St. Paddy’s Day fun!

Festivities for the “greenest ‘ of all holidays kick off with a St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday, March 10th. Celtic revelers will don their green apparel to stroll down Main Street and celebrate all that is Irish! With an eclectic array of Irish music, step dance teams, Irish wolfhounds, setters and other Irish dog breeds, not to mention the obligatory leprechaun or two, this free event will delight one and all! The hour (or so) long parade begins at 1PM, with participants lining up on South Main Street at Wardlaw. For more information, call 288-2922.

After the parade, join the rest of Greenville’s Irish community and “Return to the Green”. For most, this free event signals the true start of the whirlwind of St. Paddy’s celebrations. Starting at 1PM, this family-friendly shindig features Irish step dancers, Irish music from the Greenville Pipes & Drum Corps among others, authentic Irish food, the ever-popular selection of domestic and Irish beer and more Irish accents (both real and faked) than you can shake a shillelagh at. This year’s shamrock soiree takes place at Fluor Field with festivities continuing until 6PM. For details, visit http://www.returntothegreensc.com.

The Children’s Museum gets into the St. Paddy’s Day spirit with some special events for all the lads & lassies. Wee ones ages 5 and under can make beautiful Mosaic Shamrocks from cut paper in TCMU’s “S is for Shamrock” art classes. The classes take place daily, at various times, from March 12 through March 16. The classes are free with museum admission and children must be accompanied by an adult. For more information, visit http://www.tcmupstate.org.

The Augusta Road Library welcomes all the little leprechauns to join them on Saturday, March 16, for “A Wee Bit of Blarney”. This St. Patrick’s Day celebration will feature Irish stories, holiday crafts and green refreshments. Reservations are strongly encouraged. Call 277-0161 for more information.

Also on March 16th, The Palmetto Children’s Charity invites you to join them at Fluor Field for the 2nd annual St. Patty’s Dash & Bash. Featuring certified 5k and 10k runs, as well as a children’s “Fun Run” and other kid-friendly activities, this family-centered event benefits local children’s charities like The Make-A-Wish Foundation, Let There Be Mom and Camp Spearhead. Although the event itself is free, there is a $25 registration fee for those wishing to participate in the 5k and 10k runs. Packet pickup is at Fluor Field from noon to 7PM on March 15 and 6:30AM to 7:30AM the day of the race, which begins at 8AM. To register and to find out more, visit http://www.stpattysdashandbash.com.

Another event seeking to make a difference is the annual St. Baldrick’s event at Larkin’s on the River. This annual event, which benefits childhood cancer research, is a much beloved St. Patrick’s Day tradition. Festivities begin at 1PM on March 17th. Whether you’re a spectator, a donor or one of those brave souls allowing their heads to be shaved in the name of charity, you cannot help but be moved and inspired by this event. For more information and to donate, visit http://www.stbaldricks.org.

So, there is no excuse not to head Downtown to shake your shamrocks a bit on St. Paddy’s Day! Just be sure to wear something green or you may get pinched! Details regarding more “adult-oriented” St. Patrick’s Day celebrations will be in next week’s blog. Until then, “May the Road rise up to meet You, & may the Wind be always at your back.” Happy St. Paddy’s Day!



Who doesn’t get a little thrill watching the Oscars? The glitz, the glamour, the red-carpet and all those categories! Well, there’s one category Downtownies may want to take notice of…Short Films. Why? Because our very own hometown will have a rare chance to view these Oscar-worthy films in a unique way.

A short film, by the film industry’s definition, is a film that is 40 minutes or less in length. What they lack in duration, they more than make up for in quality, dramatic flair and thought-provoking subjects. This weekend, the Peace Center will play host to their first ever “Oscar Shorts Film Festival”.  Movie lovers will have the opportunity to view the Short Film nominees from three categories – live action, animation and documentary.

The three day long festival will begin Thursday, February 21 with the screening of the Live Action nominees. The films range in content and subject matter and are from such wide-flung countries as Belgium, Afghanistan and Somalia. Included are films that portray people from every walk of life – from  the adventures of a young man attempting  to manage his pre-teen niece in “Curfew”,   to “Asad” and “Buzkashi Boys”, coming of age stories set in the war-torn countries of Somalia and Afghanistan, and from a Canadian pianist struggling to deal with the sudden disappearance of his beloved in “Henry” to a tale of second chances in “Death of a Shadow”, the story of a young soldier who finds his shadow imprisoned by an eccentric collector.    

Friday will play host to screenings of the nominees in the Animation category.  Fans of “The Simpsons” will be delighted to see Maggie Simpson in her latest adventures at Ayn Rand Day Care in “The Longest Daycare”. “Adam and Doc” tells the story of the first dog in creation and delves into his relationship with the First man,  “Guacamole” is a campy look at how to turn everyday objects into guacamole and “Paperman” tells the story of a lonely NYC man trying desperately to catch the attention of a pretty young woman, using only his imagination and a stack of papers.  In addition to these wonderful animated shorts, three other award-winning films will also be shown on Friday – “The Gruffalo’s Child”, “Abiogenesis” and “Dripped”.

Saturday’s screenings will feature nominees in the Documentary category and, true to form, cover a variety of thought-provoking topics. “Redemption” is the story of poor NYC “dumpster divers” who comb through others’ discarded trash in order to survive, while “Innocente” features a young artist seeking to show the new face of homelessness in America. “Open Heart” follows eight Rwandan children who have left their homes and families to receive high-risk heart surgery in Sudan. “King’s Point” gives us a glimpse into the lives of five senior citizens in Florida and “Mondays at Racine” shares the wonderful work done by a Long Island hair salon that offers a unique service to women undergoing chemotherapy.  

The screenings begin at 7PM on Thursday and Friday and 3PM on Saturday afternoon. Tickets are available at The Peace Center Box Office for $10 per series. For more information, call 864-467-3000 or visit www. Peacecenter.org.

 



When February 14th rolls around, it is only natural for one’s thoughts to turn to love. Whether you are starting a new relationship or have been together for decades, nothing brings out the “sappy romantic” quite like Valentine’s Day. If you want to make this year’s “Day of Love” something your sweetheart will remember for years to come, then Downtown Greenville is the place to start!

What girl (or guy for that matter) doesn’t love to receive some beautiful flowers or something sweet on this most romantic of holidays? If you have found that you have somehow forgotten to pick up something for your significant other the morning of the 14th, Urban Petals can help you resolve that matter. With a “Pop-Up Flower Shop”, which will be located at Port City Java (11 S. Main St) Thursday morning, suitors can purchase hand-tied bouquets of gorgeous, fresh flowers for their Valentines. From a “Best Buds” bud vase for $15 to a breath-taking arrangement of one dozen flawless red roses for $75, there is something for every price point and budget. Don’t procrastinate – Urban Petals will only be at Port City Java from 8AM until 1PM (or until the flowers run out). So get there early, grab a morning cup of coffee and pick some pretty posies sure to keep you out of the “doghouse”!

If your loved one has a sweet tooth, then head down South Main Street to Augusta Street and stop by Coffee To A Tea for a treat as sweet as your beloved. With savory pastries, delectable cupcakes and cookies, not to mention beautifully decorated , decadent cakes that are almost (notice I said ALMOST) to pretty to eat, this cozy little bakery and coffee shop has something for every taste. Leave your calorie counter at the door and indulge in the delicious “yumminess” available here! A dessert from Coffee To A Tea will definitely put you and your dear one in the mood for love!

You can never go wrong with a special evening that includes fine dining…especially on Valentine’s Day. Several Downtown restaurants are preparing special Valentines menus just for couples to enjoy. High Cotton invites you to join them for an evening of dining and music. The culinary staff at this wonderful eatery is preparing a special fixed price menu of 3 delicious courses for $65 per person. Start your dining experience with Charleston She-Crab Soup or Gulf Oysters on the Half Shell, then follow up with Lobster –encrusted Filet Mignon or North Carolina Duck Breast…YUM! Dessert offers such tempting choices as Dark Chocolate Terrine and Salted Pretzel Crème Carmel…to enjoy while listening to the cool tunes of the Sonny Thornton Quartet, featuring guest songstress, Sharon Lamontte. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 335-4200.

Not to be outdone, Devereaux’s Chef Spencer is creating a special 5-course “Chef’s Tasting Menu” certain to please the one you love. This delight for the taste buds includes such choices as Palmetto Quail and Rare Seared Tuna…along with suggested wine pairings. For dessert, enjoy the ultimate in chocolate decadence, a “Chocolate Trio” of Brownie, Milk Chocolate Caramel, and White Chocolate all in a sinfully good Parfait. For more information and to make the required reservations, call 241-3030.

Soby’s New South Cuisine can always be relied on to provide culinary excellence. Chef Shaun is offering his seasonal menu with a few Valentine Features such as Panko Fried Extra Select Oysters, Grilled Aged Ribeye and Pan-Seared Scallops. For the perfect finish to a perfect meal, try their “Romantic Ending for Two” – Chocolate and Red Velvet Cake with fresh raspberries, white chocolate mousse and chocolate dipped strawberries. Reservations are strongly encouraged and can be made by calling 232-7007.

For something a little more exotic, but no less romantic, plan to spend your evening at The Lazy Goat. Chef Vicky’s list of Valentine’s Day features were definitely created with lovers in mind. From the luxurious “Oysters & Pearls” (Kumomotos, Caviar, Champagne and Pink Peppercorn Mignonette, Blibis and Crème Fraiche), decadent Smokey Cocoa Seared Duck Breast (with Minted Cous Cous, Pine Nuts, Chick Peas, Braised Green & Cherry Demi), not to mention a lavish dessert of Dark Truffle and Raspberry Truffle Tart, will arouse feelings of “l’amour” in no time! For reservations, call 679-5299.

Few things are more romantic than beautiful music. And few musical instruments can inspire such gentle feelings of love as the piano. Greenville’s premiere concert pianist, Emile Pandolfi, will be giving a special Valentine’s performance at The Greenville Little Theatre at 8PM on the 14th. A pre-performance reception will be held starting at 6:45PM. Tickets are available for $40 online and can be obtained through http://www.greenvillelittletheatre.org.

All this fine dining and romance may make you and your Valentine decide to truly make a night of it. Why not be a “tourist” in your own hometown and book a room at the historic Westin Poinsett. Their wonderful Spa Package offers a room for $349 a night for two (or $249 a night for one, if you want to give your significant other some “quality time” alone) and includes a One-Hour Customized Therapeutic Massage in their River Falls Spa. Some restrictions apply and advance reservations are required. Find out more at http://www.westinpoinsettgreenville.com.

Plato once said “At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet.” Well, in your case, maybe not a poet, but all this romance may bring out the creative genius in you and may put you in the mood to paint a masterpiece or inspire a culinary creation of your own. Sassy Paints is offering art classes in a romantic theme with their recreation of “Out Tree” Reservations are required and rates and other information are available at http://www.sassypaints.com. For the infatuated foodies among us, Charleston Cooks is offering a Couples Cooking Class on February 13th. For more information, call 335-2000. Or you may just want to stroll down Main Street, holding hands and checking out all the cool art galleries, shops and sites our fair city has to offer. However you decide to celebrate, LOVE is definitely in the air in Downtown Greenville!



This past Friday evening, hundreds of people of all ages, races, religions and socio-economic standing came together to honor the memory of one man…Dr. Martin Luther King. Falls Park in Downtown Greenville was awash with goodwill and unity as participants celebrated Dr. King’s legacy as part of the “MLK Dream Weekend”.  Made up of business and civic leaders committed to Dr. King’s cause, this grassroots organization encourages others to “live his dream”. This Thursday, January 17, the Hyatt Regency will host the 8th Annual MLK Diversity Banquet and Celebration, with keynote speaker, Nikki Giovanni.  Ms. Giovanni, a world-renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator, has brought attention to the Civil Rights of others for more than three decades through her outspokenness in writing and lectures. The event begins at 7PM and although tables are currently sold out, there are some individual tickets available at $60 each. For more information and ticket availability, please call 864-990-1060.

Upstate residents are also encouraged to spread Dr. King’s message through a “MLK Day of Community Service”. In conjunction with Hands on Greenville, organizers have coordinated a variety of volunteer opportunities – from beautifying lower-income neighborhoods to delivering Meals on Wheels for the elderly and homebound. The majority of these volunteer events will take place Saturday, January 19, from 9AM until noon. Families, friends and community groups can sign up to volunteer together.  For more information,  www.handsongreenville.org.

The celebration will conclude Monday, January 21 with “Dreams in Action” at Greenville High School. This event, whose mission is to spread Dr. King’s message of positive change, will begin at 8AM with a light breakfast which will be followed by the production of “One Voice” with JDew. An exceptional narrative highlighting orations from some of America’s most influential black leaders, “One Voice” is a fascinating journey through the black American experience, by virtue of eight powerful and influential voices spanning from the 1820s to present day including: Martin Luther King, Jr., Muhammad Ali, Bill Cosby, and Barack Obama. For more information on this and other MLK Dream Weekend events, visit www.mlkdreamweekend.com.

The Peace Center will also be paying homage to Dr. King and his dream with their production of “I Have a Dream”.  Part of the center’s nationally recognized arts initiative, Peace Outreach Programs (for students grades 3-12), this compelling dramatization of the life and times of one of the most influential and charismatic leaders of the Civil Rights movement is certain to inspire young minds as they experience this great leader’s struggle and his dream of lifting “our nation from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood”. Tickets are $9 with 10AM and noon show times on both January 23 and 24. For more information, visit www.peacecenter.org.

A must-see for locals and visitors alike is the Greenville Cultural Exchange Center, located at 700 Arlington Avenue. Founded in 1987 by Ruth Ann Butler, a former history teacher and participant in Greenville’s Civil Rights Movement, this African American history museum and cultural center is dedicated to the preservation of Greenville’s rich multi-cultural diversity, contributions and accomplishments. The Center provides a haven of historical reflection, research and education through exhibits, archives and guided tours. The Resource Center contains biographical sketches, news articles, tape recordings, photographs, and letters of prominent African-Americans, available to visiting scholars, students, and the general public.

A trip Downtown on MLK Day would not be complete without a visit to the corner of Washington and Main Streets in Downtown Greenville. This seemingly ordinary street corner, which is currently the site of building projects, played a remarkable and very important role in Greenville’s Civil Rights Movement. This was once the home of the Woolworth’s building and was the site of “sit-ins” and student protests against segregation in the 1960’s.  Many of the students involved, including Greenville native, Rev. Jesse Jackson and museum curator, Ruth Ann Butler, attended Sterling High School. A memorial to these courageous students now stands on the site. The life-size statue by artist Maria Kirby Smith depicts two African American students (a young man and a young woman), walking down the steps from Sterling High. The site also contains a memorial marker honoring Sterling High itself, which burned in 1967.

To learn more about Greenville’s role in the Civil Rights Movement and the rich history of her African-American community, here are more places you may want to visit:

Site of The Working Benevolent Temple: Located at the corner of Broad and Falls Streets, this unassuming building was once the home of the Working Benevolent Temple. Constructed in 1922, this 3-story, brick building played a vital role in the development of Greenville’s African American business district for over 50 years by providing office space to many of the community’s professionals. It was designed, built and financed by the Working Benevolent Grand State Lodge of South Carolina, a health, welfare and burial benefit society.

John Wesley United Methodist Church: Located next to the site of the Working Benevolent Temple, on Falls Street.  Organized in 1866 by Rev. James Rosewood, a former slave, this church was one of South Carolina’s first independent African American congregations after the Civil War. The current church was built between the years of 1899 and 1903 and is an excellent example of the Gothic Revival style. John Wesley Methodist has long been the epicenter of Greenville’s religious community and, along with the Working Benevolent Temple, is on the National Register of Historic Places

Richland Cemetery: Located on Stone Avenue, near North Main. In stark contrast to the elegant opulence of nearby Springwood Cemetery, this small area is the simple yet dignified final resting place of some of Greenville’s most prominent African American citizens. Many of the graves contain no markers or homemade gravestones, while others are marked by stones proudly proclaiming the person’s accomplishments and status in the community.  This quiet, peaceful site is a reflective conclusion to your historical tour.



C.S. Lewis once said, “Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.”  This month, Downtown Greenville offers many ways in which to enrich your life with the literary talents of local professional and amateur writers alike.

Throughout the Fall, students from several area schools have worked with acclaimed poet and performer, Glenis Redmond as part of the Peace Center’s “Artist-in-Residence” program. The result is “Peace Voices” –a special youth performance in which these young artists share their thoughts, dreams and imaginations through their original poetry.  Ms. Redmond, who is herself an autobiographical poet, will share her own work and well as the literary creations of her young novices. This special performance will take place at The Peace Center’s Gunter Theatre at 7PM on Tuesday, January 8. This is a free event, but tickets are required. For more information, visit www.peacecenter.org or call the box office at 467-3000.

The Upcountry History Museum has partnered with the Greenville Library System to present a collection of tales reflecting the rich storytelling traditions of the Upstate.  In this series of four Tuesday performances, some of the area’s most compelling writers and literary artists will share how their work is colored by our region. The series begins with a presentation of poetry by Vera Gomez on Tuesday, January 8.  The series will continue with performances by non-fiction author, Dot Jackson on the 15th, fiction writer, George Singleton on the 22nd and finishing with poet Glenis Redmond on the 29th. All performances will take place from 6:30-8:30 PM at the Hughes Main Library. This event is free to the public but registration is required. For more information, visit www.greenvillelibrary.org or call 527-9293.

Every Sunday evening at 7:30PM, Coffee Underground comes alive with the spoken words and righteous rhymes of their “Wit’s End” Coffee & Poetry. Hosted by the Unified Sol Poets, poets of all experience and skill levels are invited to read and perform their own original works in this longest running poetry series in the state. The series is wrapped up each month with a Poetry Slam on the last Sunday of each month. The cost is $5 with registration starting at 7PM. For more information, visit www.witsendpoetry.com.

After attending some of these events, you may feel compelled to do a little writing of your own. The Emry’s Foundation, together with Hub City of Spartanburg, are once again partnering to encourage writers in their annual Creative Writing Contest. The contest has two categories – excellence in poetry and excellence in fiction. Winners of each category will receive a full scholarship to Wildacres Writers Workshop – a week-long creative writing summer school in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Second and third place contestants will receive scholarships to Hub City’s summer workshop, “Writing in Place” at Wofford College. All entries must be received by February 1, 2013 and you must be 18 or older to enter. For more information, visit www.emrys.org.

Whether you are a professional journalist, a blogger like myself, a colorful storyteller or a soulful poet, Downtown Greenville can offer many creative opportunities for literary artists.  From a commentary on daily life to a poem about the gnarled roots of a familiar tree, Downtown Greenville can excite and inspire the creative juices in us all. Take a walk around our fair city, and you may feel inspired to wax poetic yourself!

 



It’s October…the temps are getting cooler, the leaves are changing colors and Downtown is decidely SPOOKIER! Halloween is around the corner & this is a very important tie of year for the little ones. Not only is the choice of costume so very important, but all the other things that make this time of year so frightfully fun must be addressed. So if you’re looking for some Halloween Happenings to entertain your little monsters (& your teen monsters too), head Downtown for these events sure to fright & delight!

The Greenville Library System is offering many family-friendly Halloween events. Their kids’ craft events – Kindercraft, CraftTime & In BeTween Crafts – are all offering Halloween & Fall-themed projects this month. The tiniest ghouls & boos can have some Howlin’ Good Fun at the Hughes Main Library’s Bouncing Baby BOO Bash, for babies 18 months and under. This event which offers games, prizes and costume contests, will take place October 30th, starting at 11AM. The Library’s Storytime events take on a certain spookiness as kids are encouraged to come in costume to hear scary, Halloween-themed stories. For more information on these and other events at your local library, visit http://www.greenvillelibrary.org.

The Children’s Museum is offering two Halloween themed events this season. The first, BOO-seum, is returning for another year with science-themed, spooky fun every weekend in October. In addition to this family favorite, TCM is offering a twist on their art-themed events with Haunted Art Studios. Kids can create Halloween themed art projects under the guidance of the artist-in-residence. TCM also offers other events such as Halloween & Fall-themed craft projects to really get the kids in the Halloween spirit! For more info on these and other events at The Children’s Museum, visit http://www.tcmupstate.org.

For many families, no event signals the coming of Halloween like the Greenville Zoo’s BOO in the Zoo! For more than two decades, this zoo sponsored trick-or-treating has been the “must-attend” Halloween event for the “under 12 set.” This year’s event takes place October 19-21 & 26-28. Cost is $3 for adults & $6 for children (Children must have an adult chaperone). For more information on this not-so-scary event, visit http://www.greenillezoo.com.

The Saturday Market (on Court Street) is a favorite with families – and October is no exception. Join them on Saturday, October 27 for their Autumn Harvest from 8AM until noon. This year’s celebration will feature trick-or-treating for the kids, a cake walk, Ghost Buddies crafts with the folks from The Children’s Museum, a Fall Recipe Swap & a visit from the Star Wars 501st Legion, who will be roaming the Market. Best of all, it’s FREE!   For more info, visit http://saturdaymarketlive.com.

Looking for a Halloween event with a little more BITE? Then join the Zombie hoard on October 19 for the 3rd Annual Greenville Zombie Awakening. For the past couple of years, hundreds of the Walking Dead have invaded Main Street in search of BRAINS! A grassroots effort started by a group of college students & zombie enthusiasts, this year’s event promises to be even more “zombielicious”. Zombie costumes are required to participate & this is an all ages event. For more info, visit their Facebook Page at http://www.facebook.com/gzombieawakening.

Chills and thrills, with a little history thrown in, are what you will find when you take a Greenville Ghost Tour. Writer and paranormal specialist, Jason Profitt will lead you on a spine-tingling tour of Greenville’s supernatural side. 3 special Halloween night tours are scheduled, in addition to his regularly scheduled Thursday-Sunday 7PM tours. Tour cost is $20 for adults, $10 for children 13 & under. To book your tour & for more information, call 248-6472 or visit http://greenvilleghost.com.

In addition to the Zombie Walk & the Ghost Tours, two Haunted attractions, which are particularly popular with teens, are open in Downtown Greenville. The first, The Haunted Vault of Horror, is located at 245 N. Main Street (across from The Hyatt). Open weekends, starting at 7:30PM, this haunted attraction will take you on a frightful tour of freaks and frights. Cost is $15 per person. For more info, visit www.screamfinder.com. The second haunted attraction is a longtime Greenville favorite, Nightmare on Pendleton Street. Cooked up by the guys at B93.7, this attraction is an ever-changing screamfest of terror. Located at 904 Pendleton Street, this event is open every weekend in October from 7PM until everyone has gone home . For more info, visit www.b937online.com.

There you have it…plenty of family-friendly events for kids of all ages. So, head Downtown to get your hair raised and your spine-tingled. For more Howlin’ Good Halloween Happenings, check out the Downtown Greenville, SC Facebook Page every Friday for a posting of a calendar of events. Happy Halloween!



This wasn’t the article I had planned to write. I was going to write a fun, light-hearted blog about events coming up this weekend, or great places to watch college football, or which Downtown pub to visit for the best cocktail. Then I saw the calendar and that date which is permanently burned in the hearts and minds of us all…September 11th. Suddenly, those blog ideas seemed trivial.  What was the proper way to recognize this day? I knew there would be news stories commemorating the events of 11 years ago and memorial services in honor of those who had perished. But, thinking back to those days following 9/11, it was the stories of simple heroism, committed by everyday people that truly stuck with me.

We know the stories almost by heart now…of the courageous passengers on United Flight 93, who prevented their hijackers from crashing the plane into the intended target. Of the fire fighters, police officers and other emergency responders who rushed head on into danger, when others were fleeing. But, for every one heroic act that made the evening news, there were hundreds that very few people, other than the ones directly affected, ever heard about. Of a person taking the hand of a stranger to help them to safety from a smoke-filled office. Of others sharing water, and extinguishing fires and holding open doors to help coworkers escape. Simple, random acts of heroism that impacted the lives of others in profound and unexpected ways.

Greenville has had her share of heroes. All one has to do is walk down Main Street and view statues of great Greenvillians such as Max Heller, our former mayor and catalyst for the revitalization of our beautiful Downtown. But what many people do not realize is that Mr. Heller, a Jewish refugee who came here from Austria just before World War II, would not have been able to escape the Nazi regime without the simple heroism of a teenager from Greenville.  When this young woman, Mary Mills, received the plea from the young Austrian she had met a year earlier, she knew she had to help… it was after all, as Mary said later,  “The Greenville Way”. As a result, Max and his entire family were able to escape Hitler’s persecution of the Jews and our fair city was made all the better.

The Greenville Way…a simple act by one with a major impact on many. So, here’s what I am thinking – in honor of those heroes of 9/11, both known and unknown, and in honor of Greenville’s own heroes,  this September 11th, we could all commit our own random acts of heroism. Now, I’m not saying we should hope for an emergency so we can swoop in like Superman or Wonder Woman to save the day. But we can all do small things that will greatly impact those lives we touch. Give blood, donate canned goods to a food pantry, buy a cup of coffee for a police officer, a fire fighter, or emergency responder, send flowers to your elderly neighbor, pay for the drive-thru order of the person behind you in line, write a thank you letter to your teacher, hold the door open for others, mow your neighbors’ lawn…any simple act of kindness that will make the day a little better for someone else.  After all…it’s “The Greenville Way”.

 



If you have kids, there’s a good chance you’ve had your precious little ones look up at you and sigh “I’M BORED”! Well, fear not, my fellow harried parental units, there are so many kid-friendly happenings taking place in Downtown Greenville, you may actually be able to go 48 hours without even hearing that phrase. But there is a possibility it may be replaced with “I’m tired”!

Animal lovers are in luck this weekend, with two fun and furry events featuring  lots of lions and tigers and…DOGS? Yes friends…if you like wet noses and waggly tails, come out to Cleveland Park for the Mutt Strut.  This fun 5K Run/Walk takes place Saturday, August 25th and  invites individuals, families, competitive athletes and leisurely strollers, and their dogs to participate in this paw-fect fundraiser for the Greenville Humane Society.  Registration begins at 6:30AM at The First Baptist Church  with the race (which goes along the Swamp Rabbit Trail and through Cleveland Park) starting at 8:30AM. Registration fees range from $25-$30. Participants are invited to stay and enjoy the “Mutt Strut Village,” featuring live music, refreshments and treats for two and four-legged competitors.  For more information on this event, visit http://www.ghsmuttstrut.com.

If you like animals of a more exotic type, then come out to the Greenville Zoo for their annual Zoo-A-Palooza. B93.7 is taking over the zoo Saturday, August 25th and is inviting you to the party! Festivities kick off at 6:30PM and feature food and drinks, BEE prizes and tons of family-friendly fun with acoustic performances by recording artists Austin Mahone and Chris Wallace. Proceeds benefit zoo operations and provide enrichment funds for the animals at the Greenville Zoo. Tickets are $5 in advance, $10 at the gate. For more information, visit: www.greenvillezoo.com.

If you are more of the creative sort of family, then the Upcountry History Museum is the place for you! This weekend, the museum hosts two Folk Art Workshops with artist Lonnie Holley – one for adults and one for families. The Adult Folk Art Workshop is Saturday, August 25th at 10:30AM and the Family Workshop is on Sunday, August 26th at 2PM. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Lonnie Holley creates beautiful works of folk art using “found” items. His work is displayed all over the world, including the Upcountry History Museum’s “ Uniquely Southern Folk Art” exhibit (on display until September 2). Join Mr. Holley to learn how to create a work of folk art of your own!  Materials will be provided and kids are free with an adult admission.  For more information, visit www.upcountryhistory.org.

Of course, Downtown Greenville offers many activities to keep both kids and parents happy and occupied. Hunt for the Mice on Main, take in a Greenville Drive game at Fluor Field (they are home this weekend), or visit The Children’s Museum of the Upstate to explore the fun exhibits and take part in the TCMU Summer Olympics.  Afterwards, stop by The Chocolate Moose on Main for a yummy cupcake or Luna Rosa or Blueberry Frog for a scoop of refreshing gelato or frozen yogurt.  Family time in Downtown Greenville is always time well spent!

For More…

Mice On Main – Inspired by the children’s book, “Good Night Moon”, these adorable little mouse sculptures can be found peeking out from various locations throughout Downtown. For a list of hints, visit: www.miceonmain.com.

Greenville Drive – Greenville’s minor league baseball team plays their home games at Fluor Field. For a game schedule and ticket information, visit: http://www.milb.com

The Children’s Museum of the Upstate – A fun, interactive museum for children, TCMU continues to be a favorite with kids and parents alike. Current exhibits include Garage Rock, BI-LO Market, Kaleidoscope Climber and Healthy Heroes. Museum admission also includes access to the many classes and activities offered to visitors. For more information, visit: www.tcmupstate.org

 



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