Saturday Night in Our Town

This weekend marked the close of the River Rocks festival in Chattanooga. River Rocks is a ten day, outdoor festival, "that celebrates the Tennessee Valley’s incomparable natural resources, the health benefits of an active, outdoor lifestyle and Chattanooga’s commitment to environmental stewardship and land conservation."


I'm not going to lie and tell you that I participated in any of those outdoorsy events. Because, let's be honest, there are bugs outside. Eww.


But, we did enjoy the closing night party in our most favorite spot in Chattanooga, Coolidge Park.


We started off the perfectly weathered evening by watching a hot air balloon being inflated. (I promise it's more magical and exciting than it sounds.)


Since the owners of the balloon were offering 10 minute tethered rides in the balloon for super cheap, we considered hopping aboard.


But ultimately, we decided to enjoy the view from below instead.
Next up was a free concert in the park by the "very big" band, The Jayhawks. In the preceding weeks I was told several times how "big" of a band The Jayhawks are. My general rule of thumb is if you have to tell me that a band is really big, they probably aren't really big. However, I realized that I was familiar with the band when they played this song...

Familiarity is HUGE with me when it comes to music. I'm definitely not hip and trendy enough to discover new bands. I'm a concert go-er that likes to sing along. So when they played a song I knew, I instantly enjoyed the show that much more. "Big" or not, for my money, The Jayhawks put on a great show.


We met some friends at the park. We shared some cupcakes - obviously - and reveled in what just might be the last outdoor concert of the season.  By the way, if you haven't already, meet my friend Liz. Liz, this is everybody. Everybody, this is Liz. Liz has a blog called Motoring Forth and I bet she wouldn't mind if you stopped by to say, "Hello!"


The night came to a beautiful and dramatic close with a sculpture burn. A local artist, Andrew Nigh, spent several days constructing the piece and then in the company of dancing fire eaters and a healthy dose of Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire, he burned that sucker to the ground.


It was quite a spectacle.


As the sculpture burned, I could hear a conversation between two local women in the crowd. One woman was in her forties and the other in her twenties. Both had been born and raised in Chattanooga and explained that during the early years of their respective lives it had been a really depressing place to live.
{Liz, if you're reading this, DO NOT look at the next picture... it contains children up WAAAAAAAAAY past their bedtimes!}


As the women cheered for the burning of the sculpture they celebrated the manner in which the city was, "growing up." They spoke with pride, affection and excitement in their voices. I'm not gonna lie, it was some of the most perfectly delightful eavesdropping I've ever done.


I haven't been witness to the monumental changes those women must have experienced having only lived here a short time. But, their conversation made me stop and recognize just how much the city has "grown up" in the five years we've been here. There have been countless developments and improvements (and not just in my attitude). Standing there, watching the burn, I had a moment of pure gratitude and uncharacteristic humility. It's no secret that I've not always been Chattanooga's biggest fan. But, what a privilege it is to be living here during such a transformative time in her history.

Can you tell that I'm totally enjoying learning to use the still new-ish camera?