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Monday, July 14, 2014

Enjoy a Simple Summer of Memory Making

The Lil' Kaintuckeean Enjoying a Popcicle on a
Hot Summer Day. Author's collection.
Oh the simple joys of summer as seen through a child’s eyes. It is always such joy to see the faces of my children as they’ve taken advantage of being outside and enjoying the warmth of summer.

Whether it be running in the sprinkler, eating a popsicle, or just interacting with their siblings or friends, watching the children play brings great joy. And the neat thing about honest summer play is that it is largely unchanged from generations past.

Kids still ride their bikes, still drink from hoses, and still get into trouble as always. Whereas it used to be a challenge to corral one’s children for mealtime or for the night, the struggle persists to keep the child active and outside and not dormant in front of a screen.

As a parent, it is much more fun to see my kids doing those summer things. Just watching them have fun is fun. My great grandfather used to say that “watching children is the best way to waste time.”

And it is.

Sometimes, of course, I struggle with allowing myself to waste that time. But it is so important to do so. To stop and to enjoy the moment. After all, isn’t that what I’m trying to get the kids to do by shooing them out the door and away from the television and their various iDevices?

Of course, there are so many risks outside, too. Bug bites once fairly innocent now might carry unpronounceable diseases. (Is it just me, or does anyone else want to say chupacabra whenever the Chikungunya virus is mentioned?) And then there is drinking out of the water hose.

I recently saw an adorable picture of a friend’s twin daughters drinking from the water hose. While wondering if the hose was BPA free, I laughed at the things we now think of. (And I already checked, Amazon.com does carry a BPA-free garden hose for this very reason so sadly someone else already thought of this and is profiting on it!)

Of course one summer adventure that we don’t get to enjoy quite like the old days is the amusement park. Sure, lastweek the great sights and sounds of the Jessamine County Fair are available locally. But next week, they’ll be gone. (You can still take advantage of the Bluegrass Fair in Lexington!)

Without hopping from fair to fair, the nearest amusement park is the old Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville or Kings Island north of Cincinnati. But it once was that all Nicholasvillians had to do was hop on the interurban rail line or the Greyhound bus to Lexington’s Joyland Park.
The Pretzel, " That Funny Mysterious Dark Ride" at Joyland Park in
Lexington, Ky. University of Kentucky Archives.
Open from 1923 to 1964, Joyland Park was a regular destination for those who grew up in Nicholasville and Jessamine County. The park offered the region’s first public pool. Generations of Kentuckians learned to swim there at the free swimming lessons sponsored by Lexington’s newspaper.

In addition to swimming, the park offered a great wooden roller coast (The Wildcat), a carousel, a midway with 26 booths of games and other temptations, and several acres of picnic grounds. A venue on-site also brought to town some of the great musicians of the twentieth century early to mid-20th century.

I’ve discovered so many shared memories from those who visited Joyland Park as children on the many “I Grew Up In …” Facebook groups like the one for North Lexington.

What are your favorite summer memories? And what memories will you make this summer for yourself and for your family?

A version of this column originally appeared in the Jessamine Journal on July 9, 2014. It should not be republished without permission.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Art is winning in Lexington and Nicholasville

Lexington's First National Bank (aka Fayette National Bank) Building
and Future 21c Museum and Hotel (Photo: Author)
In early June, the city council approved final terms on the 21c Museum and Hotel which will occupy that city’s oldest skyscraper, the Fayette National Bank Building. Since the approval, construction has been moving along in the historic structure.

Originating in Louisville, 21c already has locations in Louisville, Cincinnati, and in Bentonville, Arkansas. The fourth location will be in Durham, North Carolina, and Lexington will be the brand’s fifth. Construction has already begun to rehabilitate the Lexington landmark for its future purpose.

A 21c hotel, however, is far more than a place to rest one’s head.

The modern, award-winning hotels are well-regarded for the art museums at each location which are free and open to the public.

During the council debate on the matter, Lexington’s elected leaders heard from some constituents who don’t approve of the art that will be on display. Too risque. Too provocative. Too sexual, they argue.

But the project was still approved. Lexington’s leaders approved of the downtown development that would bring jobs, a proven hotel, and a collection of art (albeit controversial at times) to its Main Street.

But what is art?

It is defined as “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.”

Emotional power? Surely those objecting to 21c’s art have a strong emotional response to seeing it (or perhaps just hearing of it). It so moved them that they sought to take an active step in democracy by speaking to their elected leaders.

Have you been dramatically moved by a piece of art?

Perhaps it was a painting or a song or a sculpture or a book. Irrespective of form, art can carry us to new heights, can overcome our emotions and can make us dream new dreams.

It is a good thing that art won on Lexington’s Main Street.

Nicholasville's First Gallery Walk in June 2014 (Photo: Author)
And it is a great thing that art won on Nicholasville’s Main Street in early June, as well.

At the close of business on June 6, the Polvino Family Art Center opened its doors. And with it came throngs of people for Nicholasville’s first gallery walk.

Twelve spots along Main Street saw artists showcasing their work and people filling sidewalks. Four restaurants along Main Street — Euro’s, the Nicholasville Cafe, Brewer’s, and Simi’s — each were open for evening dining.

It was so exciting to see all of the people walking along our downtown streets on a beautiful evening while patronizing our locally owned businesses.

When our Main Street’s streetscape was torn up several years ago for a beautification process, our community suffered. But I believe that through the years and through that pain, we are emerging as a better community.

I tip my hat to Constance Grayson and all of those involved in having the vision and the drive to turn that vision into a reality. The Creative Art League of Jessamine County has grown so much over the past few years and it has so much more potential!

I am excited about future gallery walks and the energy and beauty that they bring to Main Street, Nicholasville.

The next Gallery Walk along Nicholasville's historic Main Street will be on August 8 from 5:00 to 8:00.


A version of this column originally appeared in the Jessamine Journal on June 11, 2014. It should not be republished without permission.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Lexington is Happy!

This awesome video is a remake of Pharrell Williams' Happy. It features a lot of great spots downtown and a lot of great people. You'll probably recognize a person or two (or more). It is a really well-done video by the Broadway Christian Church - check it out!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Excited for California Chrome ... and a Triple Crown?

California Chrome Wins the Preakness. Photo: Jay Baker.
Will history be made this Saturday?

We will find out with the 146th running of the Belmont Stakes, the third and final leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown.

The Triple Crown is a peculiarity in sports. In college sports, we cheer on the Wildcats. Most of us have at least a preferred NBA, NFL, MLB, or NHL team, if we aren’t a rabid fan of one or more.

But horse racing is different. A young foal is born and three years later is at the pinnacle of its racing career. The following year, a new set of horses are ready to race. One could draw similarities here to the new crop of players in each of Calipari’s freshman classes, but each of those basketball players wears on the front of their jerseys the real source of our pride: KENTUCKY.

There isn’t the same sort of common ‘team’ interest in horse racing.

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