Park(ing) Day offers streetside serenades - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Park(ing) Day offers streetside serenades

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- It's hardly "fiddling" when you've played for 11 of your 14 years. So Victoria Meeks, violinist with the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera Youth Orchestra, is thrilled to solo at the Tivoli Friday afternoon.

Or more specifically, curbside.

"I think it's neat and I like doing it," she says. "I think's it's cool for other people to do it."

"It" is Park(ing) Day, the Scenic City's participation in what's become a world-wide event the third Friday of September.

How else could you hear the dulcet tones of the Creative Underground's Shane Morrow? On a Steinway? Amid the lunch rush on Frazier Avenue?

Or the Beard and Mustache Federation's Lon Eldridge, spinning ditties, 'twixt Broad and Market Streets? "What better way to do it, than to actually be in a parking space , on MLK, a very historic musical street in Chattanooga," he asks rhetorically.

Park(ing) Day Chattanooga's promoter is proud. But he wants more. "More dancers," Buddy Shirk says.

You'd find it in front of the Bluegrass Grill on Main Street. Let's just say that the performers held your attention with grace. And razor-sharp butcher knives. "It's been amazing to see this grow over the last three to five years," Shirk says. "I mean who would have known?"

Park(ing) Day 2012 claimed 35 parking spaces throughout Downtown and the North Shore; enough to make Chattanooga's the largest such event in the Southeast, Shirk says.

But growing larger could be tricky, politically. "We're mindful of the merchants," Shirk says. "We know parking is a premium, especially on one of the busier days for retail and restaurants."

But several merchants have embraced it. Among them, Co.Lab, the business incubator/promoter for digital entrepreneurs. "You see the foot traffic that happens down the street," Co.Lab's Sheldon Grizzle says. "I'd rather have that than somebody parking outside my office and going somewhere else."

Hence, Co.Lab.'s decision to put out a leather couch and comfy chair; even offering Internet service, utilizing Chattanooga's gigabit capability.

For Jean-Howard Hill, park(ing) at Miller Plaza is a way to reach voters by giving of herself. She's running as a write-in Independent candidate for Congress in Tennessee's 3rd District, challenging Republican incumbent Chuck Fleischmann.

"We have a lot of people hurting across all eleven counties of this District," she says.

Friday, she filled three parking spaces with boxes of clothing, all seasons and sizes.  "When I see things, I just get them," she says. "If you can give back to people, I think that's what people are looking for."

Park(ing) Day Chattanooga's Facebook page: www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Parking-Day-Chattanooga/403356369723423

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