Monthly Archives: August 2006

Was everyone downtown last night?

My family and I joined what seemed to be the entire population of Erie County for Celebrate Erie. The Beach Boys were the headliner, and that seemed to bring out the throngs. I didn’t see any of the elements that caused the festival to close early last year, it just seemed that everyone was having a good time; folks were moving around pretty good, except it was a true sea of humanity closest to the stage. I would think that the downtown establishments had to make a week’s worth of profit last night alone.
I told my wife that this was one event that has a “big city” feel. I remember going to some of the festivals in Nashville when we lived there and experiencing the same thing. I’m glad the new administration was able to pull it off this year, in the spring it didn’t look so promising, but a little help from a governor trying to be reelected didn’t hurt.
It was most fun to run into people you know every 30 feet! A quick hug and a 60 second catch-up conversation made for a rewarding evening, even if my feet were ready to fall off.
To all of the complainers who thought it was crazy to have a festival, pay the Beach Boys $60,000, etc. while the city is facing financial ruin I say this: you can’t just stop civic life, no matter what the circumstance. What we face in Erie is what Jim Collins calls a “both/and.” We need both fiscal responsibility and celebration; solid leadership with vision and a sense of context from history; we need manufacturing, high-tech, and tourism; support of existing employers and entrepreneurs. It’s the “both/and.” And its hard, expensive, and everyone needs to take some responsibility.