downtowngreenvillegirl











May has to be one of the nicest months to spend in Downtown Greenville. With the beautiful blue skies, the lush greenery and near-perfect weather (well…. MOST of the time, anyway), there is much appeal to spending the day here. Many residents, myself included, choose to revisit that favorite pastime from childhood – bike riding – to explore our Downtown. And Downtown is only too happy to oblige bike enthusiasts!

May is officially National Bike Month…but here in Downtown Greenville, every month can be Bike Month. From designated bike lanes on our main streets to bike docking stations scattered throughout, Downtown Greenville is definitely a “Bike Friendly” community. The City of Greenville’s “Bicycle Friendly Community Initiative” began in 2006 as a city council resolution. It quickly gained in popularity as bike enthusiasts, including many bicycle racing professionals, rallied behind it. The result is Bike Friendly Greenville, whose goal is to provide infrastructure, education, and outreach to increase the number of trips made by bicycles by improving roads to accommodate bicyclists and creating programs that encourage alternative transportation. The program was recognized by The League of American Bicyclists for its work to bicycling for fun, fitness and transportation and work through advocacy and education with its prestigious Bicycle Friendly Community award. To learn more about Greenville’s Bike Friendly Program, visit their Bikeville page at http://www.greenvillesc.gov/ParksRec/Trails/bikeville.

As mentioned, many of Downtown Greenville’s streets offer Bike Lanes, so that bicyclists can safely share the road with motorists. These special lanes are clearly marked with a white bicycle. For more information, a map of specified bike lanes and other bike safety tips, download the City’s Bike Safety Brochure, found here: http://www.greenvillesc.gov/ParksRec/Trails/forms/BikevilleBrochure.pdf. Rather enjoy your bike ride without the distraction of cars? Downtown offers several bike paths that wind through our lovely public parks, including North Main Park, McPherson Park and Cleveland Park. If you would like a little more “mountain” to your biking, check out The Swamp Rabbit Trail, a 17+ mile multi-use trail, part of which winds its way through Downtown. Several of the trials in Cleveland Park also offer a satisfactory mountain bike experience. For more information and maps, visit: http://www.greenvillesc.gov/ParksRec/Trails/SwampRabbitMap

After enjoying a day of bike riding, you will most likely want to park your bike and enjoy all the sights and sounds that Downtown has to offer. The City has recently installed several bike racks throughout Downtown, where you can safely stash your bike before having lunch or taking in the sights. See the attached map for a list of bike rack locations: http://www.greenvillesc.gov/ParksRec/Trails/forms/DowntownBicycleRacksPlan.pdf

Don’t own a bike? No worries…there is no need to miss out on all the fun! Greenville B-cycle, a partnership between Upstate Forever and the Greenville Health System, is transforming the way we get around downtown Greenville. With six stations and 28 bikes, the system provides community members and visitors an active way to get around town. Four bicycle docking stations are located Downtown at 206 S. Main Street, 215 Rhett Street, 100 W. McBee Avenue and 11 College Street. Two additional stations are located at Sterling Community Center (113 Minus Street) and County Square (301 University Ridge). With a purchase of a membership online, or a one day guest membership, you can then have a bike to use at your leisure. For more information on this program, visit: http://greenville.bcycle.com.

If you want a little more variety in your bike choices, then check out Reedy Rides, a longtime provider of rental bikes to the Downtown area. Available seven days a week, Reedy Rides feature 3, 7 and 21 speed comfort cruisers to choose from as well as kid’s bikes, child trailers, tag-a-longs (third wheel), a tandem and trike. They provide not only the bicycle, but a helmet, a small bag for keys/phone/wallet, and a lock. They will even deliver to your hotel if you are visiting our fair city! Because it can get busy this time of year (especially on pretty weekends) reservations are strongly encouraged. For more information, or to make reservations, call (864) 419-2944 or visit: http://reedyrides.com.

So there you have it Downtownies. Greenville definitely goes all out to make her Downtown very bike accessible. So, grab your bike (or rent one) and head Downtown on one of these gorgeous Spring days to take advantage of our city’s Bike Friendliness! You’ll appreciate our Downtown in a whole new way! Safe Biking!



“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!



{November 27, 2012}   It’s Christmastime in the City…

Well Downtownies…the Thanksgiving dinner has been consumed, Black Friday deals have been had & you’ve gotten carpel tunnel syndrome from all the online shopping during Cyber Monday…so, what’s next? If you are a parent, keeping the little ones (& not-so-little ones) entertained can be a bit daunting – especially with the 2-week long Holiday break looming in the near future. But not to fret, my fellow DTGVL parental units, Downtown Greenville offers many excellent events for kids of all ages, sure to keep you & your family on Santa’s NICE list!

Ask any Downtownie & they will tell you nothing kicks off the Holiday season like the Greenville Poinsettia Parade & the Christmas Tree Lighting. This year’s city Tree Lighting takes place 5:30PM on Saturday, December 1 at City Hall before the parade. Then the floats and marching bands roll out at 6PM, starting at River Street & continuing down Main, ending at  E. North Street. A favorite for all ages, families often make a day of it – taking in the sights and sounds of Downtown Greenville, before settling in at a spot along the parade route, hot chocolate or apple cider in hand.  For more information and a map of the parade route, visit www.greenvillesc.gov.

Speaking of kid-friendly fun, The Children’s Museum plans several Holiday craft projects for little creative hands and minds to keep busy during the month of December.  From designing Christmas Ornaments, to crafting Tissue Holiday Trees and mixing up Reindeer Food, there will be so much going on that you may actually make it through the Holiday season without hearing “I’m bored” even once!  The Children’s Museum’s Holiday celebration culminates with their “Breakfast with Santa & Mrs. Claus” event on Saturday, December 15. Visit www.tcmupstate.org for more information.

Not to outdone on the Holiday fun, the Hughes Main Library has its own calendar of Holiday happenings for kids. From the craft projects at Kindercraft & InBetween classes, to  the Holiday Open House Party for kids 5 & under (Thursday, November 29 at 10:30AM) and  Santa’s Christmas Party with the Columbia Marionettes  for ages 4 & up (Friday, December 7, 10-11AM), there are tons of fun for the kids. They can even explore Holiday traditions from other countries through the Library’s “Explore Your World” program on December 4. For more information on this and other Library events,  call 527-9248.

Are your kids into music, theatre & dance? Then these events will certainly jingle their bells! The Greenville Museum of Art will be hosting the Greenville Symphony Orchestra’s Holiday Lollipops Concert for Kids on Saturday, December 8. The concert begins at 11AM and is followed by a Holiday Party at 2PM. This event is free to the public. For more info, see www.greenvillemuseum.org. The South Carolina Children’s Theatre is hosting its own Holiday Pajama Party on Wednesday, December 19 from 6:30-7:30PM. This Milk & Cookies themed event will feature a Holiday story time served up with…you guessed it …Santa’s favorite snack –  milk & cookies. The cost is $10 per child (adults are free) with pre-registration required at http://scchildrenstheatre.org. Ballet fans will have two opportunities to see “The Nutcracker” performed by two amazing ballet troupes at the Peace Center. The Carolina Ballet will be performing this time-honored favorite on November 30 – December 2 and the International Ballet will be performing it December 7-9. If your family prefers to see a theatrical performance of a Holiday classic, then catch “Miracle on 34th Street” performed at Centre Stage (http://centrestage.org)November 22 – December 22, “It’s a Wonderful Life” at The Greenville Little Theatre (www.greenvillelittletheatre.org) December 7-16, “The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t” at The Warehouse Theatre (www.warehousetheatre.com) December 7-29, and a play inspired by that favorite childhood twist on the classic Christmas carol – “Junie B in Jingle Bells Batman Smells” with the South Carolina Children’s Theatre (http://scchildrenstheatre.org) at the Peace Center , November 30-December 16.

The Holiday season in Downtown Greenville offers even more opportunities for families to catch the Holiday Spirit. From Horse Drawn Carriage Rides from Whispering Winds (www.downtowncarriage.com), to ice Skating at Ice on Main in the Village Green (www.iceonmain.com) and the St Francis Festival of Trees at various hotels downtown, there is something for everyone throughout December. So, whatever you celebrate this Holiday season, spend some of it in our lovely, festive Downtown. Happy Holidays, Y’all!

For a list of Holiday Happenings taking place in Downtown Greenville, visit http://www.facebook.com/note.php?saved&&note_id=427455850642353&id=371197456807



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

 



{August 7, 2012}   The Promise of Fall

When I stepped outside the other morning, the air held a hint of coolness signaling the fact that the Summer season had turned a corner. I came to the happy realization that Fall is on its way. There is just something special about Autumn in The South. I know, I know…every tourism board is convinced that their part of the country is the most beautiful in which to spend this season, but to this Greenville Girl, nothing beats Fall’s approach in the Upstate of SC.

From mid-August through September, depending how far below the Mason-Dixon line you are,  this favorite season starts to make itself apparent. The humidity finally dips to breathable levels, the mornings are noticeably cooler and even the air starts to smell like…well, FALL (which I think smells like apples).  Other than the occasional torrential rainstorm that chooses to rear its ugly head, the weather is bordering on near perfection.

People from other parts of the country may wonder why Fall is such an event in the nine states that make up the American South. Because to Southerners, Autumn is the reward for surviving an Endless Summer – which in Dixie, is not nearly as idyllic as The Beach Boys made it sound. You see, here in the South, Spring does not last 3 months like it does in the rest of the country, it lasts 3 weeks. Temps go from enjoyable to resembling Hell’s Sauna in a heartbeat. And they stay that way for four long months! Want to know why Southerners walk and talk so slow? Because to do anything fast during this time in the South will most certainly end in heat stroke.

So, what makes this current time of the year so magical in Downtown Greenville? Because the cooler mornings and lower humidity gives us hope that, although it’s still officially Summer, Autumn is reaching out with the promise of crisp temps, glorious colors & many of the things that make living here great! For Downtownies, that alone is reason for celebration! And celebrate we do – with Moonlight Movies in September, Fall for Greenville in October and all the many Fall Festivals that pop up around the area. For sports fans like me, Fall means that most “sacred” of Southern traditions…FOOTBALL! Downtown becomes a palette of orange, garnet and purple, with sports bars coming alive with fans cheering on their favorite teams and gathering after to enjoy a post-game meal at an outdoor cafe, while reliving the action with fellow fans.

So, make a little time to visit Downtown during this wonderful time of year, when Summer is making its departure and Autumn is planning its arrival. Enjoy an outdoor concert as Downtown Alive, Main Street Fridays and Rhythm on the River wind up their seasons. Stop into one of the amazing restaurants and sample some of their savory Fall delicacies such as hot apple pie or pumpkin cheesecake. Visit the Saturday Market to check out their fresh Fall produce – like butternut and acorn squash, pumpkins and apples – and have a cup of hot apple cider while you’re there.  Visit the unique shops to see beautiful hand-knit items, most created by local artisans. The weeks leading up to the official start of Fall are truly a magical time of year in Downtown Greenville…and a time you really shouldn’t miss!



No one knew who her parents were or where she came from that cold February day. She was a small, unidentified baby girl that the police officers who discovered her named Julie Valentine.  But her tragically short life focused attention on the plight of abused and neglected children in South Carolina…and the Julie Valentine Center was created as a result.

It’s been more than a decade since that day, but the Julie Valentine Center’s mission has only strengthened and grown.  A symbol of hope for those who have survived rape or child abuse, the JVC  works tirelessly at its goal to stop sexual violence and abuse against women and children.  Offering  Community Education, Victim Support, Specialized Services for Child Victims and Trauma-Focused Therapy, among other vital programs, the  JVC helps victims of such violence put their lives back together and guides them on the road to recovery.

This Saturday, August 4th, the Julie Valentine Center will hold its 4th Annual Run 2 Overcome at Cleveland Park.  Not an ordinary fundraiser, this event is about so much more than just raising money. It is a call to the community to come together to speak out, in a united voice, against violent crimes. It is the chance for victims of these crimes to stand together, without fear, among the friends, family, neighbors, and even among strangers, who care.  It is a chance to find out what YOU can do as an individual to help put a stop to the violence.

This year’s event boasts both 5K and 10K races, as well as a “Fun Run” for the kids. Registration will take place right up until Race Day and can be done online. Registration fees are $25 for the 5K and $30 for the 10K.  The 10K race begins at 7:30AM, followed by the 5K, beginning at 8AM (Race Day Packet Pick-Up is from 6:30AM until 7:30AM). Runners, walkers and  strollers are all invited to join the event.  For more information regarding Run 2 Overcome or The Julie Valentine Center, visit www.julievalentinecenter.org.



It’s Sunday morning and you’ve awaken with the desire to do something. Not just anything, but something that’ll rev up your internal engine, wind up your weekend and kickstart a new week! Well, my friend, it sounds like a trip to Downtown Greenville is in order!

Brunch is an excellent way to get your Sunday moving in the right, adventurous direction. Several Downtown establishments offer brunch and the choices are as varied as your tastes. Want a brunch that has a certain laid-back sophistication? Then, try the Jazz Brunch at High Cotton. With a mouth-watering selection of Southern classics (my personal favorite is the Crab Cakes Benedict), many foodies deem this a weekend necessity.  Serving brunch from 11AM until 2PM, this Sunday’s musical entertainment will be provided by local talent and High Cotton regulars, The Ian Bracchitta Trio. Some other great choices for brunch include The Green Room (serving brunch all day from 9AM until 5PM), The Bohemian (serves brunch from 11AM until @2PM), Mary Beth’s (especially good for early risers, serves brunch from7AM until 3PM), American Grocery Restaurant (Fresh, local ingredients, brunch served 11AM-2PM) or the Spoonbread Restaurant at The Poinsett Hotel (a Greenville institution, serving brunch from 10AM until 2PM).

After brunch, stroll down College Street to Heritage Green and the Greenville County Museum of Art. Every Sunday at 2PM, the art museum offers a wide range of special events and programs at their appropriately named “Sundays @ 2”. The schedule includes artist and gallery talks, special tours, music, and demonstrations. These events are free and many are designed with families in mind. The next two Sundays feature “Music in the Galleries” with the Pride of Greenville Men’s Chorus on the 29th and Celtic Singer Judy McKenney on August 5th. After the performance, take a few moments to tour the evocative, ever-changing exhibits on display. The Greenville Museum of Art is open from 1PM until 5PM on Sundays.  For more information, visit http://www.greenvillemuseum.org.

If you wish to continue your “artsy vibe”, then consider checking out Greenville’s thriving theatre scene. Many of Downtown’s community theatre’s feature matinee times for recent performances. Currently showing at Centre Stage is the 60’s inspired musical, “Beehive”. The play runs through August 11 and matinees are at 3PM, Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for students and available through the Box office or online at http://centrestage.org. If Shakespeare is more your thing, then head over to Falls Park at 7PM for Shakespeare in the Park. This “motley crew” of players tells the Bard’s tales, with a modern twist. Currently showing is a contemporary adaption of “Henry V”, complete with “mosh pit” battle scenes to the Celtic-punk tunes of Dropkick Murphys!  Even your bored teens will get into this! Performances are free, but donations are greatly appreciated.

If the evening finds you with the urge to be in air-conditioned comfort, then look no further than Coffee Underground. For some sick rhymes taken with some medicinal caffeine, join other wordsmiths for the Wit’s End Poetry Slam. Regional artists, including the renowned poets from Unified Sol, heat up Sunday nights with some cool poetic insight during this open mic event. Doors open at 7:30PM, everyone is welcome and there is a $5 cover charge. For more information, visit: www.coffeeunderground.biz.

No matter what your interests are, there’s always something to do Downtown. From the many shops and art galleries and museums such as the Upcountry History Museum and The Children’s Museum, to a bike ride on the Swamp Rabbit Trail or a Drive game at Fluor Field, there’s always an event to suit your mood. For a detailed list of daily Downtown happenings, check out the Downtown Greenville Facebook Fan Page at www.facebook.com/DowntownGreenvilleSC.

Here are some more fun Sunday Things to do Downtown:

Upcountry History Museum:  A family-friendly interactive museum showcases the diverse history of Greenville and the Upstate. Sunday hours are 1PM until 5PM and Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children 4-18. www.upcountryhistory.org

The Children’s Museum: A kid-friendly, interactive museum that encourages creative play. Special daily events, programs and classes offered, usually at no additional cost. Sunday hours are 11AM to 5PM and Admission is $9 for children 2-12 and $10 for adults. www.tcmupstate.org

Artists Guild Gallery of Greenville:   Featuring work from local artists that are available for sale, this gallery also hosts receptions and other special events open to the public. Admission is free and Sunday hours are 1PM until 5PM. http://artistsguildgalleryofgreenville.org

Greenville Zoo: Located near Cleveland Park, this small Zoo is very family-friendly. Sunday hours are 9AM until 5PM. Admission is $7.75 for adults, $4.50 for kids 3-15. For a list of special Zoo events, see www. greenvillezoo.com

Greenville Drive: Greenville’s minor league baseball team, who plays home games at Fluor Field. Sunday home games usually start at 4PM. Tickets are $5 – $8 and are available through the box office or online. For tickets or game schedule, see http://www.milb.com.

Swamp Rabbit Trail: This17.5 mile multi-use trail system runs along the Reedy River connecting Travelers Rest with the City of Greenville. For a map of the trial, visit http://greenvillerec.com/parks/swamprabbit/

Reedy Rides: Dedicated bicycle rental business located in downtown Greenville. Can deliver bikes right to the Swamp Rabbit Trail. Sunday hours are 8AM to 8PM. For more info, call (864) 419-2944

Downtown Trolley:  The trolley runs Downtown on Sundays from 1PM until 8PM and rides are free of charge.  Download a map of the trolley route at  http://www.greenvillesc.gov

 



Growing up in Georgia, my best friend and I would anxiously count down the days leading up to the 4th of July. Then, when the big day was less than 24 hours away, my older brother would load us up in his tiny MG (it’s a good thing we were also tiny) and cross the Savannah River over into South Carolina to purchase fireworks. It was against the law to actually sell fireworks in Georgia, but for some reason, it was okay to purchase the mini-explosives elsewhere and bring them into the state. Then, as darkness fell over our suburban cul-de-sac, my brother and father would shoot off bottle rockets, firecrackers and Roman candles, much to the delight of the neighborhood kids, who gathered to watch at a safe distance. As a child, I didn’t think the 4th of July could get any better…but, boy, was I wrong!

One would think that Greenville, with a history rich in Revolutionary War stories, would have a blast of a 4th, and our Red, White & Blue Festival strives to do just that!  Showcasing one of the state’s largest fireworks displays, which, I hate to admit, is so much better than the one my family produced, this free event is a favorite with young and not-so-young alike. From 5PM until 10:30PM, Downtown Greenville will be a celebration of our freedoms with live entertainment, great food and children’s events, encompassing Main Street from Court to Camperdown. Kicking off the live music will be Nashville recording artists Outshyne at 5:30PM, followed at 7:30PM by The Army Ground Forces Band’s Jazz Guardians.  And what would the 4th be without fireworks?  To really pay tribute to the birth of our nation, Downtown’s fireworks display will be synchronized to patriotic music, starting at 9:45PM. For more information about the festivities, visit http://www.greenvillesc.gov.

Now for many people, the 4th is not the 4th without some baseball, a picnic and a parade. If you want to save the Red, White & Blue festival for later (or just want to swing by long enough to catch the fireworks), start your Independence Day with the Freedom Celebration and Picnic at the Vietnam Memorial at Cleveland Park. From 11AM until 3PM, join your fellow Greenvillians to celebrate our freedoms and to thank those who kept them for us. For details on this event, call 242-4110. After your picnic, and perhaps a stroll Downtown, join the residents of the North Main area for their annual Earle Street 4th of July Parade. Starting at 7PM from Earle Street to Main, this small neighborhood parade celebrates our independence in an event so All-American, it almost looks like a Norman Rockwell painting. For more information, call 232-5332. Or, if you want to celebrate America by catching a bit of America’s Game, head to Fluor Field at 7PM to cheer on the Greenville Drive (plus, it’s a primo location to catch the Downtown Fireworks display). For ticket information, visit http://www.milb.com.

The fun doesn’t stop there! Get the kids excited about our Independence Day celebrations by stopping at The Children’s Museum first for a little Red, White & Blue Art (at 1PM).  Looking for something to entertain the grown-ups after the fireworks? Then treat yourself to some Red, White & Blues at Smiley’s Acoustic Café with Freddie Wooten & Friends or Smoke on the Water with Jellyroll Antenna. With all these ways to celebrate our independence, I think even George Washington would be impressed! Happy 4th of July!

For a list of these and more 4th of July Events in and around Downtown Greenville, check out http://www.facebook.com/DowntownGreenvilleSC/notes#!/notes/downtown-greenville-sc/fourth-of-july-celebrations-in-downtown-greenville-beyond/380510058670266



For the people who work, live and play Downtown, the statues of famous Greenvillians are just part of the landscape. We walk by them, sit next to them to rest our feet or to pose for a picture, use them as a meeting place to hook up with friends, even dress them up for holidays! But who ARE these people apparently so important to Downtown Greenville that we saw fit to immortalize them in bronze? This weekend, noted historian and founder of Historic Greenville Tours, John Nolan, will enlighten us on this subject in a series of tours scheduled to take place Saturday morning (June 16th) and Sunday evening (June 17th).  Can’t wait until this weekend to learn more (or perhaps, you’d like to impress Mr. Nolan with your vast knowledge of notable Greenvillians)? Well, here’s a little insight into just WHO these folks are and why they are so significant to our little part of the world.

Across the street from the Hyatt Regency (and the starting point of this weekend’s tour), is an impressive statue depicting former Greenville Mayor, Max Heller. Now, Greenville has had many mayors, but none quite like Max Heller. The epitome of the “American Dream”, Max was an Austrian Jew who fled to Greenville as a teenager to escape the Nazi regime. Arriving with less than $2 to his name, Max quickly found work at the Piedmont Shirt Factory (now the site of Devereaux’s) with the help of a local Greenville girl, Mary Mills, in answer to his plea for assistance.  Seven years later, the young man found himself the Vice President of the company, but soon felt the urge to strike out on his own. In 1948, he started his own shirt company with 16 employees and by the time he sold it 14 years later, his workforce had swelled to 700. With a vow to serve the public, Max ran for and was elected Mayor of Greenville in 1971. To say Greenville would not be what it is today without this event would be an understatement. Max quickly sprang into action – desegregating all city government departments and commissions, so that everyone would have an equal chance for success, strengthening our local economy by convincing corporations such as the Hyatt to build here and setting out to beautify our city so that instead of having out-of-towners drive quickly through Downtown (usually with windows up and doors locked), visitors would want to stop and spend time here. Sculpted by artist Thomas J. Durham, the statue is surrounded by concrete panels depicting aspects of this great man’s life and legacy.  I believe it is safe to say that Downtown Greenville would not be the award-winning, tourism nirvana and fine example of the “New South” that it is today without the faith and vision of Max Heller.

South from Max Heller Legacy Plaza, at the corner of Main and Washington Streets, stands a statue of two young people representing  a group of students whose actions were every bit as crucial in shaping Greenville as Mayor Heller’s. The young man and woman depicted in the statue have no actual names, they are representative of the courage and strength of the young students of Sterling High School. In the 1960’s, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, young men and women from this prestigious African-American high school staged peaceful rallies, demonstrations and  “sit-ins” at the Woolworth lunch counter, which was located at this site. Braving taunts, abuse and certain arrest, these resolute students, which included the Rev. Jesse Jackson and museum curator, Ruth Ann Butler, changed the societal landscape of Greenville County and helped end unfair segregation in the Upstate.  With funds raised by The Friends of Sterling, artist Mariah Kirby-Smith sculpted the two students walking proudly down the steps of Sterling High, schoolbooks in hand and hopeful expressions on their faces. The site also contains a memorial marker honoring Sterling High itself, which burned in 1967.

Further south down Main, on Court Street, is a depiction of another statesman important to our area, Joel R. Poinsett. Although officially a resident of Charleston, like many Lowcountry natives, he also had a “summer home” here in the Upstate.  Sculpted by artist Zan Wells and situated near the hotel that bears his name, Mr. Poinsett is shown pausing to read a book, his hat and coat carefully placed beside him. Many of the visitors who stop and pose for a picture with the distinguished gentleman, are unaware that not only is he responsible for bringing the standard of Christmas that bears his name, the Poinsettia plant,  to America, but that he was also the Minister to Mexico, the first consul-general of the US to Buenos Aries, Argentina, and Santiago, Chile, Secretary of War in the Cabinet of President Van Buren,  a respected member of Congress and a member of the South Carolina State Legislature (where he was president of the board of public works). In his spare time (he actually HAD spare time believe it or not), he studied medicine and law, was extremely well traveled and had interests in natural history, botany, science, and politics. No wonder so many of our Upstate landmarks bear his name!

Across from Mr. Poinsett (and in fine company) is the statue of Vardry McBee. Commonly referred to as the “Father of Greenville”, Mr. McBee (pronounced “MACK-bee”, as any “old-family” Greenvillian will quickly inform you) was instrumental in accelerating industrial growth in our area.  After purchasing the land that would become the city of Greenville in 1815, he saw the value of a diversified economy and constructed over 100 buildings in Greenville County as well as built several mills (including a textile mill) along the Reedy River A humble man, McBee used his considerable fortune to improve the lives of his fellow citizens, appropriating his land and fortunes to public projects, He was a great believer in freedom of religion, freedom of assembly and that education should be available to all, and gave lands and money for the establishment of male and female colleges,  Greenville’s first churches (all of different denominations) and open areas available for public assembly upon which no buildings could be built (the Poinsett Hotel’s L-Shape is the result of being built around one of these city squares). He championed the construction of the railroad line that connected Columbia and Greenville, which become a turning point in the economy of the town. Sculpted by artist T. J. Dixon, McBee is shown in thoughtful repose, surveying the city he helped create.

Positioned near the Greenville News building, at the corner of Main and Broad Streets, is a formidable statue depicting Revolutionary War General, Nathaniel Greene. Although not actually from the Upstate, Gen. Greene played a significant role in the fight for American Independence in our state and is believed to be the inspiration for our city’s name (although the spelling has been changed). As one of the most trusted of Washington’s generals and the leader of the American troops in the South, Greene’s military genius was pivotal to Patriot victories in the Carolinas, thus turning the tide of the War in favor of the Americans. In this work created by the husband and wife team of James Nelson and T.J. Dixon, Greene is shown in an imposing stance, spyglass in hand, looking north toward victory at Yorktown.

Past the Main Street Bridge, located across from the Falls Park entrance at the corner of Main and Camperdown, sits the statue depicting one of Greenville’s most brilliant native sons, Charles Townes. The Nobel Prize winner for his studies that became the laser, Townes was recently listed as one of a thousand most important people of the last thousand years in the book, 1,000 Years, 1,000 People: The Men and Women Who Charted the Course of History for the Last Millennium.  Born in 1915 near what is now St. Francis Hospital, this future scientist showed an interest in the natural world and technology at an early age.  A precociously bright and innovative boy, he enrolled at Furman University as a sixteen-year-old freshman and later graduated summa cum laude with majors in physics and foreign languages in 1935. After earning a master’s degree at Duke University and a doctorate from the California Institute of Technology, he began work at Bell Labs, designing radar systems for American bombers in WWII. After the war, he joined the physics department at Columbia University. It was here, sitting on a park bench in 1951 that he had an epiphany which lead to the creation of laser technology. It is this moment that is captured in this sculpture by artist Zan Wells.  Clutching the envelope on which he scribbled the formula for his theory, Townes is shown with the light of scientific revelation reflected on his face.  In tribute to Dr. Townes’ invention, the statue actually contains a small laser. Surrounding this piece in what is known as “Townes Plaza” are four other benches from Franklin Park in Washington, DC, where Townes is reputed to have had his earth-shaking “a-ha moment”.  Visitors are invited to sit with Dr. Townes and have a revelation of their own.

South on Main Street, toward the part of Greenville known as the West End, is the final and perhaps most poignant statue on the tour, the sculpture of Joseph Jefferson Jackson, otherwise known as “Shoeless Joe”.  The story of Joe Jackson’s life and career are worthy of a Shakespearean play. Son of a poor Greenville sharecropper, Joe quickly went to work in a textile mill as soon as he was old enough to reach the machinery. As a young teen, he was recruited to join the mill’s baseball team as its youngest player. First positioned as a pitcher, he was moved to left field after one of his pitches actually broke an opponent’s arm. He would play this position for the rest of his baseball career. But it was at bat that Joe’s amazing natural talent shown through. Swinging his beloved “Black Betsy”, Joe set record after record – many of which still stand today. This is how artist Doug Young chose to portray this baseball legend – forever frozen in time, swinging for the stands, his eyes alight with the knowledge that he just hit another home run.  It was this incredible ability that 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 icon, 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”. But Joe’s success was short-lived. In a tragic turn of events, Joe found himself accused with seven of his teammates 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 living in several southern towns and cities and playing semi-pro baseball under assumed names, Joe and his wife, Kate returned to Greenville to live out the rest of his years.  Always a beloved local hero to the people of Greenville,  Joe continues to be a hero to baseball fans all over the world. He still holds franchise records for the Indians and the White Sox for both triples in a season and career batting average. 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.

Want to learn more? Then join Mr. Nolan and others for a guided tour down Main Street to discover what these wonderful statues and the remarkable people they depict reveal about our city’s past and present. Sponsored by Historic Greenville Tours and the Upcountry History Museum, the tours begin in the Dogwood Suite at the Hyatt Regency and end at Shoeless Joe Plaza (intersection of Main and Augusta). Two tours will take place – Saturday morning, June 16th, from 8:30AM until 10:30 AM and again Sunday evening, June 17th, from 6:30PM until 8:30PM. Tickets for the tours cost $20 for UHM members and $30 for all others and are available at The Upcountry History Museum. Space is very limited. If you are not able to fit either of these tours into your summer schedule, no worries…similar tours are planned to take place in September and December. For more information, visit www. Upcountryhistory.org

So there you have it…a diversity of sculptural works depicting a diversity of people, all of whom had a significant part in shaping our fair city. And the list is ever-growing…plans are in the works to create more statues because Greenville natives just KEEP ON doing remarkable things! Who will be next? I personally would like to see a sculptural tribute to Academy Award winning actress (and Greenville native) Joanne Woodward, to acknowledge Greenville’s thriving arts and theatre community…but that’s just my opinion.



et cetera