Start today by finding solution
Published 6:47 pm Saturday, March 4, 2017
The annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee will take place this afternoon as people from across the country walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, retracing the steps taken by those who participated in the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches.
For the newsroom, the day is always a busy one, going to various morning church services around Selma and then covering the march that afternoon.
This year’s Jubilee has been noticeably different, at least for those of us along Water Avenue this weekend.
In past years, most of our reporters would have had to move their cars Friday night as streets were closed ahead of Saturday’s street and music festival literally right in front of the Times-Journal front door.
On Saturday, thousands of people would descend onto Water Avenue for a day of music, food, arts and crafts and more.
Well, this year was much different, as the annual Jubilee street festival moved across the bridge to the Selmont side of the river amid a funding dispute with the city over police and fire protection as well as clean-up.
I’m not great a judging the size of a crowd. It will be interesting to check with the Jubilee and law enforcement to gather how they thought turnout was this year in the new location compared to past years.
Jubilee organizers might actually determine that having the street and music festival set up across the bridge works better for them. The bridge was able to be kept open Saturday, and any businesses open shouldn’t have been negatively impacted.
In fact, I saw lots of people downtown for the parade about midmorning.
Hopefully, the businesses and restaurants open saw an increase in traffic over a normal Saturday, which is slow downtown.
Regardless, hopefully, any disputes over funding for next year’s event can be worked out well ahead of time so this battle isn’t played out like it was this year.
There are 365 days between now and next year’s Bridge Crossing Jubilee to find a solution without the negative publicity.
If the set-up from this year worked well for the Jubilee and the city has no complaints, then maybe it can work again. However, if the city determines it indeed spent taxpayer resources on the private event, Jubilee organizers need to be prepared to pay what they owe.
Everyone has agreed the Sunday march will go on as it has for 25 years now. I believe a solution can be found that works for both the city and Jubilee organizers, and there is time now to do that but those talks can’t wait until next winter.
The same can be said for the Battle of Selma. Our city needs both of these events and others that drive tourism and revenue to our city to be a successful as possible.