|Best Costume ever!|
As you know, James and I lived in Europe and Asia for 27 years before returning to buy the Carolina, our Bed and Breakfast inn in Asheville, North Carolina. While we lived overseas a great many things happened in the United States. (For one thing, when we moved in 1981 AT&T was the only phone company!). So we expected changes when we came home and there have been many. But one of the things we love about Asheville is how much it has maintained the small town feeling from our childhood.
I grew up in a small town in Connecticut. There were basically two main shopping streets: a five and ten cent store, a wonderful independent bookstore, a stationary store, and two or three newsstands. Competing gas stations stood on the corner of an intersection and a small train station served to take the men into New York City to work. That town is long gone. High end stores grace the shopping streets. MacMansions stand on one one acre lots. The bookstore has fled. A large chain drug store has taken over the five and ten cent store and Starbucks now owns the corner of the intersection.
In contrast to this, downtown Asheville has more than one independent bookstore, two (!) stationary stores, the Woolworth’s store is still there with its lunch counter where you can buy the best grilled cheese sandwich and root beer float in town. (To be fair, the store itself is now a gallery for local artists, but still…) We have chocolate shops selling chocolates made on the premises. In some cases the chocolate beans are even roasted and ground in the store! Business owners live in the town and get to know their customers and other business owners well.So while coming back to United States meant getting used to changes, moving to Asheville was like coming home.
One of the aspects of my childhood which I never expected to see duplicated in the City of Asheville is the small town parade. As a girl, I marched in our town’s Memorial Day Parade. Once I even carried the flag for our Girl Scout Troop. The streets would be lined with families cheering for all of the shops and associations which were marching. Other towns had their parades on the Fourth of July or Labor Day. The town where James grew up had a “Fireman’s Parade” in which Fire Departments from all over the area marched with their trucks.
Which brings us to the Holiday Parade in Asheville. This year James and I decided to make a point of going to see it. We knew it took place every year–after all they close the whole town down for a day so we were always busy finding alternate routes for our guests–but we just hadn’t had time to get to it. I am so glad we finally went! It was everything we could have asked for . There were more than 90 participating groups, starting with “Asheville Living Treasures riding in the Greyline Historic Trolley” and ending with Santa Claus (brought to you by the Biltmore of course). In between, according to my count there were are least 3 full-on Marching Bands, 3 beauty queens in prom dresses riding on the back of convertibles, 9 dance teams, four cheerleading squads, five churches, two animal shelters, six schools and umpteen businesses with everything from banks to the Waffle House. I took countless pictures of both the floats and the spectators and loved every minute of it right down to the classically grumpy Santa at the end! For more pictures, please visit our facebook page or Google+, and next year think about joining us!