About 8:30 last night Urban Woman decided I should walk to Market Square to secure some yogurt from Orange Leaf. I didn’t object. As always happens when I leave home without my camera – something that is pretty rare – I see things that need to be photographed. After fulfilling my yogurt duties I got my camera and walked back to the square.
It wasn’t that any one thing was amazing or magical, it was that the whole of Market Square and surrounding areas was magical. What was so incredible? The sheer number of crazy things going on at once in a very small area. I missed some of the action. One of the first things that caught my attention was the drumming emanating from the edge of the Bill Lyons Stage. Several drummers a singer and several spontaneous dancers celebrated the night joyously.
The water fountains performed their duties late in the day while toddlers barreled through the shooting water. Balloon animals had children wide-eyed and waiting in line. Couples and small groups laughed and walked about. A couple of buskers had worked all evening just outside Tupelo Honey.
The outdoor patios, filled to capacity each assumed a life and personality of their own. The gritty, scruffiness of Preservation Pub contrasted with the elegance of Cocoa Moon. Patios at Oodles Uncorked and Cafe Four brimmed with conversation. Bella Luna, Shonos and Tupelo Honey each filled their patios while Urban Outfitters sparkled in the background.
A contortionist walked about carrying the tennis racket through which he can snake his entire body. Two young men appeared to be fighting, but closer inspection revealed Tai Chi in action as they synchronously in the dusk. Two other men appeared to be dancing, but instead leaped about improbably keeping a hacky sack airborne for long periods of time. Jason Mann appears to be the central figure in the Knoxville Footbag Association and he tells me they gather on Market Square every Wednesday night.
Just off Market Square, patrons spilled out of the Union Avenue location of Coffee and Chocolate, sipping coffee drinks, laughing and talking in groups and pairs. A family stood at the edge of Krutch Park looking at Market Square as if it was a wonderland. The father took photographs with his iphone.
Rickshaws approached from different directions, one empty, one full. The driver of one waved. An older boy, riding in the other rickshaw with his family stared out onto the street with an expression designed to appear bored, but he wasn’t making it work. It’s hard to be bored in a rickshaw in 2013 even if you are twelve years old.
I took the long way home and walked past the Clinch Avenue location of Coffee and Chocolate. Two couples talked softly on the porch, others sat at the bar and tables inside. The place glowed in the increasing darkness. Quieter than Market Square, but with its own charm. The gentler part of the city.
This is Wednesday night. In Knoxville. I’m not sure where else you could go to find that much concentrated and disparate activity. I’ve been to much larger cities and had a hard time finding a spot with so much synergy. It’s vibrant, it’s happening and its growing. This is not First Friday or any Friday. It is not a Saturday night. This is an otherwise nondescript middle of the week Knoxville evening. And it is spectacular. Don’t miss this golden era in our hometown.
Here’s a little coda for those of you who read this far: This web site will be featured on “Live at Five at Four” today. Tell your friends and neighbors!