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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of May 3, 2011 -- Addendum on "The Future of Hickory Alive"

Prologue: The following is a discussion relating to Item E from the Consent Agenda from the May 3, 2011 Hickory City Council meeting. I won't have time to issue the whole newsletter until Thursday at the earliest and I feel that this issue is an issue that deserves to be issued immediately based upon its own merit. Alder Sally Fox had this item pulled from the consent agenda, because she has issues with alcohol being served at the Hickory Alive Events and stated that she wants to have more family friendly events for Downtown.

E. Request From Hickory Downtown Development Association for Use of Union Square for Hickory Alive on June 3, 10, 17, 24 and July 1, 8, 15, 22 & 29, 2011 From 5:00 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.

The Hound wants you to understand that this is the next step after the Drinking Establishment Ordinance that came into effect 2+ years ago. This event has been going on for over two decades and to my knowledge the only incident related to the event came when some people from a Christian Organization attempted to pass out pamphlets 3 years ago.

I haven't attended any of these events in years, but I never noticed any rowdy behavior in those times, but that has been 15 to 20 years ago. I just believe that Alder Fox has an intolerance related to alcohol, especially in public. I don't know whether she drinks or not, and personally I don't care, but some of the comments related to the Drinking Ordinance that she championed nearly three years ago showed that she wants to super regulate the sale of alcohol into areas of her choosing.

Let me say that she was not the biggest objector to alcohol sales at Hickory Alive on this night. That honor would go to Alderman Hank Guess. From his words, I would surmise that he does not want alcohol served at any event that is held on City property. And he was vehement about what he related to be a Principle.

Now folks, I am not supportive of out of control drunken behavior, but I am in favor of people being able to enjoy an adult beverage in a fun atmosphere if that is their choice. What kind of communities have this sort of NO FUN mentality that we see constantly pushed forth by our community's leaders? This is such a negative way to portray this event and my thought is "what's next?" The Mayor mentions Hickory Hops, what about Octoberfest? What will they try to take away next?

In the end, the resolution was passed and Hickory Alive goes on as scheduled in 2011, and Mrs. Fox stated that she was happy with the discussion. You may ask why she was happy with the discussion? Because the Council has promised to study the issue; and from the feelings that I got, I would say that they are going to significantly regulate Hickory Alive in some form or fashion.

I could understand curtailing the hours back to 10pm. Major League Baseball had an issue where attendants were drinking throughout the ball games and there was an incident in 2002 where a fan at a Chicago White Sox game ran out onto the field and attacked the first base coach of the Kansas City Royals. After that, Major League baseball instituted a rule where Alcohol is cut off after the 6th inning. Of course, this doesn't happen in the luxury boxes that control their own alcohol. Once again the wealthy live by a different set of rules than we regular riff-raff, but I do believe that cutting the sales back to 10pm would be reasonable, maybe they already do that, I don't know.

The thing that bothers me is that young people just want to relax after a hard week's work. We should not be throwing the baby out with the bath water even if there are a few rowdies. Do you think that if you ban alcohol that there won't be any alcohol? Do you think other modern cities foster these kinds of attitudes? Prohibitive attitudes never work.

Have you ever been to a college football game? There are no alcohol sales there, but people sneak flasks in in their boots or wife's pocket book. They drink in their car, etc... People are going to drink and you are wasting your time trying to completely 100% stop them. And that is if the events are attractive. People won't go to Hickory Alive if it is a hassle. Is that the goal? To destroy this event? Because Teatotalers are not going to support Hickory Alive. You can bring every Christian Rock band in the world to Union Square, but the Teatotalers are not going to attend.

I am not saying that I am against family friendly events and I do believe that we should have them and they can be economically viable. The Girls Run, the Christmas ceremony, and several other events are very much family focused and people appreciate them. Having concerts and events for families is a great idea and the city should promote that, but this should not be at the expense of existing successful events. This should not be an either/or matter. This should be an and/both matter, especially when one considers the issues that Hickory's Downtown faces. Community leaders should not be throwing up obstacles related to the viability of Union Square. What Union Square needs is more activity, not less. What it needs is less micromanagement, not more. 

I hope that those who attend and enjoy these events will speak up or I can assure you that these events will be gone and it will galvanize these forces to rid our area of something else that doesn't suit their fancy.


harryhipps said...

I wonder if the Jaycees would continue to sponsor this event if they don't get the revenue this brings? We need to make a list of the Country Club members and City staff and tell everyone else to get out of town.

James Thomas Shell said...

I was told tonight by a Downtown property owner that the event ends at 11pm. The 12:30am time is just the time needed for the bands to clear out and the time needed to clean up any debris and what not.

This person doesn't want to see the event end, but this person did say that people come down there to have a cheap time and they don't really patronize any of the businesses there. This person believes that the event needs to be upscaled with better bands and there should be a cover charge to enter.

The one thing that I interjected is that it is a captive audience. It does create traffic. But, it is the property owners responsibility to capture the audience in order to make money off of them. You have to assess the market place and figure a way to address that marketplace.

I have to say that I do like the idea of a cover charge and more amenities and better bands. Our Leaders need to learn how to have dialogue that leads towards this sort of critical thinking that can be fruitful, instead of hanging with the same closed circuit and enforcing your will and "principles" on others.