Dear teacher. I regret to say that the dog ate my homework.
In this case, the homework was a Fulton Street Party wrap-up post, which I was supposed to write over the weekend. And the dog was … me, I guess.
I had planned to post tons of photos and even put together a nice little video showing you how cool the party was. It was going to be epic.
But here’s what happened.
On my way to the party, my friend Bryan, a driver for Royal Coach Limo, texted me. He was driving in the Draggin’ the Main car cruise down Fulton Street and wondered if I wanted to sit in the back of “Long Kitty,” Royal Coach’s 1961 Jaguar Limousine.
Of course I did.
So, instead of walking down Fulton Street taking photos, I sat in the back of a Jaguar limo and waved to the crowds of people who had lined the street to see hundreds of classic and custom cars slowly cruise the newly reopened main drag.
Sure, I felt guilty not doing my job, but it was hard to focus on that as I listened to folks in the crowd—young, old, and even older—exclaiming over the cars as they passed by. “Whoa, it’s a Jaguar!” I heard many times during the drive.
Also riding in the limo was a guy named Andrew who, in between princess waves out of the window, chatted excitedly about the party. “I live on Huntington, and I love seeing downtown like this,” he said. “I’m a huge fan of downtown. I want to see it like this every day!”
After the car cruise, Andrew—whom I’d never met before our limo ride—asked if I wanted to check out Lil Bourbon Street, one of the pop-ups that had set up shop for one day only on Fulton.
“I really should get to work…” I said.
“Oh, come on! Just one drink. You can work after,” said Andrew.
His logic was sound, so I followed him to the T.W. Patterson Building, where a New Orleans-style club had set up shop, complete with drinks, jambalaya, and jazz. We sat down at a table and instantly started talking with Lynn and Peter, who had been eagerly awaiting the Fulton Street Party. “We love Art Hop and go to the Grizzlies games,” Lynn told me. “We try to support downtown as often as we can.”
When Lynn and Peter left to check out more of the sights, I talked to Joseph, a huge jazz fan who told me about his wishes for a permanent club like Lil Bourbon Street on Fulton. Taking one last sip of my Sazerac, I couldn’t help but agree.
At this time, my new best friend Andrew suggested we go to the Pacific Southwest Building. “You can get some photos of the pop-ups on the way.”
Oh, right, I thought. I’m supposed to be working.
We walked out onto Fulton Street. “You have to check out Ideaworks,” Andrew said. “Unless there are a ton of people in line to get in. It’s like Disneyland lines here.”
Fulton Street Party didn’t make me think of Disneyland (those crowds are much too hard to handle), as much as it made me think of when I was in Seattle earlier this year. On the Saturday I visited, Pike Place Market was streaming with people popping in and out of little shops. That’s kind of what Fulton Street Party felt like to me—like being in a different town.
We stopped into Bazaar Boheme and chatted with a ceramic artist outside of Ideaworks before checking out the Hella Ninja food court and indoor throwing-star range. “You should throw the stars!” Andrew told me. “No, no … I still need to work,” I said. “Let’s just get to the Pac Southwest Building and then I can go do my job.”
It was outside of the Pacific Southwest Building that I ran into Craig Scharton, looking dapper in a suit and pleased-as-punch at what was happening on the street before him. It was kind of like seeing a celebrity. Someone later told me they had wanted to meet the man they’d heard so much about—the guy responsible for this celebration—but they were too nervous to talk to him.
As we lined up to get a drink inside the building, Andrew and I struck up a conversation with a married couple, Tim and Karen. They too were thrilled to see the crowds of people enjoying Fulton Street. Tim told me he’s worked in downtown for decades and loves the area. Karen said she was excited to try out the new Bus Rapid Transit system that would be able to bring her from her home in the River Park area to downtown where she could meet Tim after work for a drink or dinner.
By this time, my phone was running out of juice, and I still needed to summon a Lyft home. Andrew left to find some friends, and Tim and Karen said they had to leave, as well.
I realized I had utterly failed at my assignment. I was supposed to be documenting the sights and sounds of Fulton Street Party, but instead I had gotten caught up riding down the street, listening to jazz, browsing shops and vendors, enjoying a drink, and chatting with fellow Fresnans.
I’ll do better next time, I promise.