Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ready, Set, -----> Go!

I am appreciative of the spaces around town that are used for our public gatherings and festivals as we are set to begin our boldest and longest effort in my memory. Eighteen days of the Spotlight Festival using three outdoor entertainment venues and much of the newly renovated streetscape will tax both the infrastructure and the maintenance personnel to their utmost. I just hope that our foreign guests don't abuse these spaces as much as we do and maybe we can learn something from them about gathering in public spaces.

Last week's "Festiva Latino" and the earlier "Roots and Heritage Festival" have served as a warm-up for the city's crews and help point out what I think are some failings. Failings of both the organizers and the participants.

First, let me say that the spaces are supposed to be designed for these types of events, but a little extra effort and preparation would go a long way. The food vendors are generally relegated to setting up in the streets and I would guess that it is due to the cooking splatter and mess that just seems to occur in kitchens and other food prep places. The segment of Corral Street used during the "Roots and Heritage" still gives off the odor of cooking oil some 2 weeks after the event. To be fair, it has been hot and dry, and not rained any to help clean off the pavement and the City has not made any effort to clean it. Similar vendors for the "Festiva Latino" used the curb lane of Limestone but it does not show the same level of grime. Why can't we require some sort of portable flooring for events like this? Restaurants require a grease trap from kitchens but this flows right into the storm drains - no treatment. Hello, EPA?

The remnants of the evidence of participants is another story altogether. I don't think that it matters how many trash or recycling recepticles there may be, a large amount of food and drink debris can still be seen tracked across the pavers of the Courthouse Plaza or the sidewalks around the blocks. I just don't believe that most people would treat their backyards and patios like that when they throw a party. Once the party is over then the clean-up has to begin. If you want to get an idea how bad it could be, drive by Commonwealth Stadium on Sunday after a home football game and watch the crew methodically go through the stands, then multiply by 18 and realize that there is practically no week's interval allowed in there.

We Lexingtonian's have spent the last 4 years preparing and decorating for this one event. We have spruced up our streets and parks, our new and old spaces and even found a place to disguise our less than immaculate street occupants. We have issued an open invitation to the world to come and visit, to partake of our city's good things and to take home more than just memories. The one memory that I don't want them to take is an image of our downtown in a state similar to one out of "Animal House". We may not have everything in top shape, but can we not make it worse? Can we try to clean up after ourselves and not leave it to the City crews?

I decided a while back, not to get too excited about this next two weeks. No great expectations, just do the best we can to prepare and let it flow. Que sera, sera. No great disappointments. No regrets. I have heard all the horror stories about the volunteers and the debates about the high ticket prices (including the Ticketmaster fees) which have turned a lot of people off concerning the whole idea of the Games. Well, with one day to go until they start, we will just have to let them proceed and hope for the best.

I will be here, watching. If I see something I don't like, you will hear from me. I will also comment on the good things I see and hear.

Let the Games begin!


Stephen said...

are you coming out to the horse park?

Streetsweeper said...

I doubt that I will get to the Horse Park for the Games. I would like to go, but the price for the whole family to get in the gate is more that I have budgeted for. We went to the Blue Grass Fair, rode rides, had food and other activities for just about $100 total. The Games will cost approx. $125.00 just to see the insides of the gate. No food. No souvenirs. No competitions. No memorable activities.

I believe that the Spotlight Festival will hold more interest for me than the Games. Besides, the St. James Art Fair is coming up and they have way more cool stuff.