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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!



Well, Downtownies…February 12th is Fat Tuesday, otherwise known as Mardi Gras. For those who don’t know, it is the day preceding Ash Wednesday, the start of the 40 days of Lent, when traditionally, you give up sweets ( and general frivolity) as a symbol of fasting.  Fat Tuesday (and the weekend before) is a customary time of celebration and decadence and no city does it better than New Orleans.

Now, anyone who knows me, knows of my love for the Crescent City. It is probably the only place with even a chance of ever pulling me away from my beloved Downtown Greenville. This time of year, I find myself feeling a little nostalgic for my “other” city. If you also feel the need to experience Mardi Gras – NOLA style – but can’t make the trip to the Gulf Coast, Downtown Greenville offers a little bit of The Big Easy, right here in the Upstate.

Probably the closest you can come to Bourbon Street without leaving Main Street is Ford’s Oyster House & Cajun Kitchen.  Located on South Main, this fun-loving eatery offers some of the best Cajun cooking outside The Quarter. And do they know how to do up Carnival Season! Starting this weekend, Chef Damon has created a special Mardi Gras menu that’ll make you start your own Second Line! They are kicking off the festivities on Saturday with a boisterous Masquerade Ball in their upstairs rooms, with dance music from DJ Apollo, drink specials and all the throw beads you can catch. The cost is $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Costumes are strongly encouraged. The festivities continue on Fat Tuesday with a party worthy of its own parade krewe. DJ Apollo will return to provide dance music and drink specials and party favors will having you shouting “Throw me somethin’ mister” in no time!

Not to be outdone, Smiley’s Acoustic Café, throws  its own Mardi Gras soiree, that has become nearly legendary in the Greenville music community.  Featuring a casual jam session with members of local faves, The Work, Smley’s is all about “le Bon Temps”! With New Orleans inspired food & drink specials, Moon Pies and throw beads galore, this celebration will make you feel you’re in a rockin’ juke joint in the Treme’!!

Since Mardi Gras is all about “living it up, before giving it up”, a stop by a Downtown bakery on this most  decadent of Tuesdays may be in order. Chocolate Moose on Main,  is the perfect place to indulge in some sweet,  delicious cupcake debauchery! With cupcake flavors in Southern favorites like Red Velvet, French Toast and Bourbon Pecan Pie, your taste buds will be jazzed up big time!

The Mardi Gras festivities may put you in the mood to hear some of the music New Orleans gave birth to. Brown Street Club offers some mighty smooth jazz nightly from Tuesday to Saturday. On the 12th, enjoy the talented trio of Brendan Williamson and friends.  With the cool atmosphere and the hot tunes, you’ll think you’ve stepped into a underground jazz club on Frenchman Street.

So, there you have it Downtownies – lots of ways to experience a little NOLA in the DTGVL! So, let your hair down, kiss a stranger, dance in the street and Laissez le Bon Temps Rouler! See you Downtown!



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 a New Year…when our lives turn a page from the past and look forward to the future. Many of us make New Year’s Resolutions to improve our lives…things like losing weight or getting more exercise. But newscaster, Ann Curry suggests a way for all of us to impact not only our lives but the lives of others in her “26 Acts of Kindness” campaign.

The terrible tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary still weighs heavy on my heart. Whether it is the senselessness of the violence, happening so close to the holidays, or the thought of 26 lives whose futures are unfulfilled, this event has made me, like so many others, reflect on the impact my decisions have on the lives of others. My Irish grandmother always taught me that any act…good or bad…would return to us “three-fold”. She did this to show us the importance of every decision we make.

It is with this in mind that I fully embrace and wish to expand on Ann Curry’s vision – in which she invites us all to commit 26 acts of random kindness…one to represent each life lost that terrible day. I propose that we expand on that idea and make it our New Year’s Resolution to commit 26 WEEKS of Random Kindness.  Six months of committing simple acts that will brighten and improve the lives of others. It can be as grand as a sizable monetary donation to a local charity, or as humble as holding the door open for an elderly person. These acts can be committed every day of the 26 weeks, or just one per week…the choice is yours. Are you with me?

Greenville has had a long tradition of helping others. It should come as no surprise to most that our hometown was recently recognized as one of the “Most Giving Cities in the US.”  It is…after all…”The Greenville Way”.

So, I hope that you will join me in taking part in this mission. To find out more about the “26 Acts” Campaign, visit their Facebook Page at http://www.facebook.com/26acts. Join thousands of others who have committed themselves to this cause. ..You’ll be glad you did!



Well, we’ve made it through 2012…despite the Mayans’ (& others) predictions to the contrary. Now you are looking for ways to ring in 2013 in style. No worries…Downtown Greenville offers several events to help you make this New Year’s Eve an evening to remember!

Mac Arnold & Plate Full O’ Blues “Blue Year’s Eve” Parties at The Handlebar have taken on an almost mythical status. Nothing welcomes a whole new year quite like the incendiary blues of Mac Arnold and his “juke-joint rockin’” band. This celebrated bassist, who played with the legendary Muddy Waters, can definitely be considered a beloved musical institution here in the Upstate. Joined by his fellow bluesman from Chicago, Mr. Joe Moss, Mac aims to rock in 2013 in style!  Don’t miss this opportunity to experience the genius of this blues icon! Tickets are $16 ($18 for those under 21) and are sale now at The Handlebar. For more information, visit www.handlebar-online.com.

For a chance to see a blues star in the making, swing on by Mac’s Speed Shop and rock out to the blazing guitar licks of teenaged phenom, Marcus King. This very talented young musician and his band will be ringing in the New Year with some wicked tunes that’ll be impossible to sit still through. This special NYE performance is free to Mac’s customers, and starts at 10PM. For more information, see www.macsspeedshop.com.

Flashback to the 80’s at Wild Wing Café with Greenville’s favorite retro band, Retro Vertigo!  Featuring big hair and sunglasses at night, these sharp dressed men perform everything from The Talking Heads and Devo to REO Speedwagon and Cheap Trick.  For only a $5 cover charge at the door, you too can rock out to…well…U2! There will be drink specials and party favors galore, as well as a free champagne toast at midnight! For details, call 242-9453.

RockHouse Greenville says “Why limit the festivities to just ONE location, when you can have the NYE Bash to end all NYE Bashes at TWO locations?” This year, their New Year’s Eve Party will take place at both Ford’s Oyster House & Cajun Kitchen, as well as The Lofts at Falls Park. The $20 cover charge will get you a Hollywood-style Red Carpet Arrival, free Champagne toast, pulsating dance music from 2 DJs and drink specials unlike any other club in Greenville. To purchase tickets and for more info, visit www.rockhousegreenville.com.

If you prefer to welcome 2013 in a more relaxed, laid-back manner, then head over to Smiley’s Acoustic Café for their Smilin’ New Year’s Eve.  Chill out to the indie tunes of Kelly Jo Connect, followed by those Downtown faves, The Swingin’ Richards. As always, there is no cover charge…just a good time with good people. For more information, see www.smileysacousticcafe.com

For those looking for a hot NYE party with some cool jazz, you are in luck! Two of Downtown’s premier jazz clubs are ringing in the New Year in their own stylish manner. High Cotton will be serving a special New Year’s dinner, with music provided by the Jamie Wright Experience. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 335-4200. Not to be outdone, the Brown Street Club will be ushering in 2013 with a little help from the smooth sounds of  Dan Z followed by The Shane Pruitt Band.  For more information or to make reservations, see www.brownstreetclub.com.

For Downtown thespians looking to start 2013 in a dramatic fashion, the Greenville Light Opera Works invites you to join them for their 2013 New Year’s Gala and Fundraiser at Centre Stage. This benefit event for Greenville’s Light Opera Works will feature an open bar, a dessert buffet, dance music provided by Innfusion and both silent and live auctions. Opera and musical theatre lovers will also be treated to a special cabaret performance by Ms. Andrea Leap as well as a sneak peek performance of GLOW’s 2013 season. Tickets for this swanky soiree are $100 per person/ $180 per couple and can be obtained through www.greenvilleopera.org.

So there you have it Downtownies…eight ways to ring in the New Year…to suit every party style and budget. And, as always, if you’ve enjoyed too much revelry of the alcohol-related manner, please take a cab home. We want you around to enjoy all the fun Downtown Greenville has to offer in 2013. Happy New Year!

Just in case you’ve had too much fun, here are numbers to some of the area’s Cab Companies. Please remember that this is their busiest night, so be patient and expect delays …

Yellow Cab – 864-233-6666

Greenville Metro Cab – 864-235-8807

Budget Cab – 864-233-4200



Again, this is a very different blog article than I originally had planned. I was going to write about something festive and frivolous like places to go for a hot toddy, or who had the best Holiday desserts. But recent events in a small, close-knit community in Connecticut…a community that, from all appearances, is very much like our own community, changed all of that. And on this cold, rainy day, I find myself thinking of the families of Newtown, CT .

In Greenville, like many other smaller towns & cities, coming together in times of tragedy is not uncommon. We bring food to those who have lost a loved one, collect toys and food for families less fortunate and each weekend, collections plates are filled to the brim at area churches.  Whether it is giving sanctuary to a young Jewish man escaping the Nazi regime, as in the case of former mayor, Max Heller, or a church providing shoes to impoverished schoolchildren like was recently witnessed at Grove Elementary, we as community, come together to help those in need…we even refer to this as “The Greenville Way”.

Now, the people of the Sandy Hook community in Newtown, CT are in pain and many of us in Greenville feel an urgent need to help. The United Way has set up a Sandy Hook School Support Fund, to help those affected by this terrible tragedy. Donations can be sent to Sandy Hook School Support Fund,  c/o Newtown Savings Bank,  39 Main Street, Newtown CT 06470.

Counseling for the young witnesses of the shooting and the families of the victims of this tragedy will also be needed, not only in the following days, but reaching far into the future. Newtown Youth & Family Services, Inc., a nonprofit mental health clinic, will be providing emergency counseling to families, community members & staff. All donations made to the organization will benefit those affected. For more information, visit http://www.newtownyouthandfamilyservices.org.  The Newtown Parent Connection, a nonprofit that usually addresses issues of substance abuse, also offers bereavement group counseling. They are attempting to help the citizens of Sandy Hook by bringing in additional counselors to accommodate the needs of those affected by the shootings. For more information, please visit http://www.newtownparentconnection.org.

The Sandy Hook Fire & Rescue, whose firehouse served as “ground zero” for the media, rescue & emergency personnel and families, is coordinating a toy drive for the siblings of the children who lost their lives in these horrible events. New, unwrapped toys can be sent directly to the firehouse – Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire and Rescue, 18-20 Riverside Rd.,  P.O. Box 783,  Sandy Hook, CT 06482. The all-volunteer rescue squad will distribute the toys to the families.

But there are other ways to honor the fallen with aid and donations to organizations here in the Upstate. Mental Health is an issue that has come into the spotlight due to this tragedy.  The National Alliance on Mental Illness or NAMI of Greenville, is non-profit, grass-roots organization offering support, education and advocacy for people with serious mental illness and their families. The majority of their funding comes from donations, which help support such programs as Support Groups and Outreach for those battling mental illness. For more information, visit  http://www.namigreenvillesc.org.

Domestic Violence and Violence Against Children are other issues this event has brought to the forefront. The Julie Valentine Center, named for an abandoned, unknown infant girl,  strives to help those in the Upstate who have been victims of domestic violence, rape and incest. Donations to this deserving organization will help fund community education, treatment for victims and services for children. For more information, visit http://www.julievalentinecenter.org.

Please keep the families and others of Newtown, CT in your thoughts and prayers. It is normal to feel helpless when something so horrendous happens anywhere. But when a community comes together, especially in aid of those in need, be it locally or in a tiny village in the Northeastern US, t is strengthened tenfold. And, as a community, Greenville has a tendency to stand strong.  Godspeed Downtownies…

More Ways to Help…

In Newtown…

  • Meals: Provide meals to the families and volunteers of Sandy Hook. Two local restaurants taking orders for meals for those affected by the tragedy are King’s Breakfast & Lunch at 203-426-6881 and  My Place Pizza at 203-270-7061.

In Greenville…

  • A Child’s Haven:  A nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming the lives of young children who have experienced developmental delays or behavioral challenges. Many are victims of poverty, child abuse or domestic violence. For more information, visit http://www.achildshaven.org.
  • Safe Harbor: This non-profit helps victims of domestic violence, providing safe emergency shelter, counseling, legal advocacy, and community outreach and education. For more information, visit http://safeharborsc.org.


The Holidays seem to bring out the best in most folks. Whether you are dropping a few dollars into a Red Kettle, providing gifts for children who are less fortunate or gathering canned goods for our local food pantries, this time of year makes many of us dig a little deeper to help our fellow humans. Combine that sense of charitable giving with some of our great local music, and the combination would make even the “Grinchiest” heart grow three sizes!

The Handlebar has long donated its Listening Room for some of the best fundraising concerts in town, and December is no exception! This Friday, December 14th, join the guys from Outshyne as they throw a Dixie-Fried Country Christmas Bash to benefit the Marine Corp’s Toys for Tots. Joined by friends and fellow do-gooders, The Smith Outfit, Josh Owens & Anna Leigh, this rockin’ Holiday happening is sure to get your toes to tappin’ & your rump to shakin’! Tickets are $11 in advance and $13 the day of the show (a $2 surcharge is added for those under 21) and the music is set to start at 9PM. Collection bins for toy donations will also be positioned throughout the venue.

For more than a decade, Greenville’s favorite jam band (and all-around nice guys), The Work, has been hosting their annual concert to benefit local charities. This year’s event, The Work’s 11th Annual Christmas Jam, will take place on Friday, December 21st at The Handlebar. Joined by such local talent as Acoustic Syndicate, Yo’ Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band, Millifungus, The Bad Popes, Doug Jones & more, many consider this event to be THE Holiday Party of the year! The guys will be onstage at 7PM and play in a big ‘ol jam session until they decide it’s time to stop. This year, the American Red Cross will benefit from proceeds of this concert, to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy and other disasters. Tickets are on sale now for $15 and will be $18 the day of the show. For more information on this and other concerts at The Handlebar, visit www.handlebar-online.com.

On Wednesday, December 19th, local acoustic artist, Kylie Hinze will be performing her annual concert to benefit The Ellen Hines Smith Girls Home. Taking place at The Channel, this evening of Holiday music will also feature a silent auction & a visit from Santa.  With special musical guests, 4th Shade Avenue (from Simpsonville), Kylie will take the stage at 7PM until 9PM. A donation of $5 is requested as admission at the door. For more information, visit www.thechannelonline.org.

Downtown Greenville comes alive with music and good will every Holiday season! Take time to enjoy these and other wonderful events that take place in our fair city. I’d be willing to bet you will come away from these celebrations with the “strength of 10 Grinches…plus two!” Happy Holidays, Y’all!

More Downtown Businesses That Are Giving Back in Unique Ways…

  • Traveling Chic Boutique – Collects in-store donations for such local charities as Safe Harbor, Cancer Society of Greenville County, Greenville Humane Society, Ronald McDonald House, Meals on Wheels & Loaves & Fishes.
  • 864toGo.com – Donating a portion of their December food sales to The Special Olympics.
  • Subway – Participating restaurants are hosting Salvation Army Angel Trees to collect toys & clothing for children who would not otherwise receive gifts.
  • Red Ribbon ReSale Shop – With an eclectic assortment of items, this resale store benefits the many programs of AID Upstate, which offers support and information for those battling HIV/AIDS.
  • Safe Harbor ReSale Store – Featuring mostly gently used, upscale clothing, proceeds from this resale shop supports programs that aid victims of domestic violence.
  • Soby’s – Their Thursday Guest Bartender Happy Hour, from 5-7PM weekly, donates 20% of proceeds to area charities.
  • The Barkery Bistro – Supports local animal shelters and rescue groups with their monthly Yappy Hour events.
  • Coffee Underground – This cornerstone of Downtown’s caffeinated community supports several local charities through donations and fundraisers.


I remember how excited I would get when the local TV stations would start adding such Holiday classics as “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Miracle on 34th Street” to their December programming schedule. I loved it when George Bailey ran through the town of Bedford Falls, yelling “Merry Christmas” or when the postal carriers brought bags of mail addressed to Santa Claus to be delivered to Kris Kringle, during his sanity trial. But, as beloved as these moments are on the small screen, they are truly memorable when you get the opportunity to see them performed live onstage by some of Greenville’s most talented actors!

Perhaps no story signals the start of the Holiday season as much as “It’s a Wonderful Life”. On everyone’s list of Holiday favorites, this time-honored story of George Bailey and his journey of self-realization will be performed at the Greenville Little Theatre starting December 7 and run through December 16. Performances take place at 8PM every Thursday through Saturday evening, with Sunday matinee performances at 3PM.  Tickets range from $20 to $30. For more information, visit www.greenvillelittletheatre.org.

Running a close second on the list of Holiday family favorites, in my opinion anyway, has to be “Miracle on 34th Street”. This tale of a little girl’s disbelief in Santa has been retold several times on the big screen and is enjoying a creative revival onstage. Currently performed every Thursday through Sunday at Centre Stage, this production will run until December 22. Performances are at 8PM, with the exception of Sunday performances, which are at 3PM. Tickets range from $15 to $30 and can be purchased through http://centrestage.org.

The South Carolina Children’s Theatre is offering its own version of a childhood twist on a popular Christmas carol. Junie B. and her first grade classmates are back again in “Jingle Bells, Batman Smells”.  With weekend performances at the Peace Center Gunter Theatre (from now until December 16), this hilarious sing-a-long will delight kids and kids at heart! Performances are at 7PM on Fridays, 1:30PM on Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets are $26 for adults and $17 for children under 18.  For more information, see http://scchildrenstheatre.org.

The Warehouse Theatre is offering a “plethora” of Holiday stories, certain to become classics. The first is the kid-friendly, “The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t”. This delightful musical, adapted from Odgen Nash’s poem of the same name, will be performed starting December 7 at 6:30PM on Thursdays and Fridays and 3PM on Saturdays and Sundays.  Performances run through December 29 and tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children under the age of 15. Adults needn’t feel left out of the Holiday fun…WHT has something for you too! Two short plays by David Sedaris, “Santaland Diaries” and “Season’s Greetings” offer a cheeky, and definitely adult, look at the Holiday season and are based on Sedaris’ own experiences with his family and as one of Santa’s Elves at Macy’s in NYC. Performances of these two “tongue definitely in cheek” comedies begin December 7 and run until the 29th. Thursday & Friday performances will take place at 8:30PM with Saturday and Sunday performances taking place at 8PM. Tickets are $30 and these performances are for adults only. For more information on these and other performances, visit www.warehousetheatre.com.

Café & Then Some can always be counted on for tickling our satirical funny bone and the Holidays are no exception! Norma Jean invites you to join her and her “over-extended” family as they stumble through the real meaning of Christmas in “Merry Christmas, Y’all”.  Performances of this dinner theatre take place every Wednesday through Saturday, with the CATS crew taking the stage around 8PM-ish. Come early for dinner, which is served from 6:30-7:30PM. Tickets are $18 (for the show only) and reservations are strongly recommended. For more information, to purchase tickets or make reservations, visit www.cafeats.com.

So there you have it…A little something for everyone! Why wait for TBS or TCM to run these Holidays favorites on TV, when you can see them performed live. Holiday entertainment from the family-friendly to the not-so-family friendly…and from the classic to the future cult classics. Whatever you are in the mood for this Holiday season, chances are, it’s on a stage near you in Downtown Greenville. Happy Holidays, Y’all!



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