Better use of our riverfront

Published 8:29pm Friday, June 14, 2013

Although I could feel sweat begin to form on my forehead and I wasn’t too sure about eating the crawfish that looked like it very well could still be alive — I have to admit — I had a great time at the Old Depot Museum’s Low Country Boil last week.

Large outdoor events that benefit a good cause, I have found, are always a hit in Selma. The Alabama River Chili Cookoff, Rock ‘n’ Ribs Benefit and StreetFest are just a few events, which were all hosted on Water Avenue, that proved to be a huge success.

We have a great resource in Selma — the riverfront. And it is a resource that I believe is greatly underused. If we could host one event a month on Water Avenue, I think we would see a great shift in our city’s dynamics. Bringing people together for one common goal, whether that’s to raise money for SABRA Sanctuary, give back to Habitat for Humanity or to simply fellowship and have a good time, is crucial in creating a cohesive community.

I’ve seen the drawings of what the riverfront can be. With large fountains, paved walkways and groomed shrubbery — it looks like a picture perfect dream. However, I say why wait for this dream to be a reality? We can use the riverfront for events and activities and make it great even before this grand picture comes to fruition.

Whenever I set out to cover waterfront events, I see nothing but smiles. We obviously have a community that values one another, and we need to provide more outlets for socializing in a safe, friendly environment. With summer setting in, why not have more outdoor concerts?

While interning in Columbus, Ga. before graduating college, I wrote several stories on the city’s popular weekly outdoor concerts. The city would bring in two or three bands, open up all it’s shops and restaurants, and allow residents to camp out on lawn chairs and blankets and enjoy the show. This is something I think Selma could easily fit into its weekend schedule. Opening up Water Avenue for events will also benefit local business, as more residents and visitors will be in the downtown area, looking for a bite to eat or a movie to see.

So, I challenge the city — lets open up one of our greatest assets and use it to its fullest potential. Let’s give residents a reason to stay in Selma on the weekends instead of flocking to Birmingham, Montgomery and Tuscaloosa. Lets shake things up and think outside of the box.

Although it’s great to support local charities, let’s not wait for a reason to host a fun event on our riverfront — let’s just do it. I believe with some music, good food and friends, Selma can truly become a destination for Friday and Saturday nights.


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