CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- The rain couldn't slow people down from going to the Bessie
Despite major changes, crowds still filled MLK Boulevard and music filled
The smell of good food also filled the air and people's bellies.
"Not like it used to be 20 years ago, but still good," says Benny Hawkins.
Hawkins' sentiment seemed to be shared by most attending.
This year's Strut was very different than year's past, with increased security,
fencing and a charge of $10 to get in or no charge with a Riverbend pin.
Earlier in the afternoon, Channel 3 caught up with vendor Clayton Knight
"You think it will still be a good party," asks Channel 3.
"No, I don't think so," Knight replies.
Knight has been coming to the Strut for the past six years and was discouraged
by the changes.
But his attitude seemed to turn around once his funnel cakes were helping
fill his pockets.
"It's turned out pretty good," Knight says. "It ain't better than it was
last year, but it's turned out pretty good."
"Do you think you'll be back next year," asks Channel 3.
"Yeah, I'll be back," Knight replies. "I'll be back."
Others agree, saying they're not going to let a new way of doing things stop
Just ask Willie Bell Ratliff and she'll set you straight.
"Well, there are no changes with me, because I enjoy it," she says. "Everybody
that don't want to pay, stay at home. That's how I feel about it."
Organizers are calling this year's event a success.
The Strut was almost moved to a different spot this year: closer to the river.
Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield said security was a concern on MLK
But with a lot of persistence and an anonymous donor, the Strut stayed
where it's been for years.
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