What Makes Ronnie Roll: Summer In The City

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

While summer doesn’t officially begin until later this month, the summer in the city vibe was the first thing we discussed when Mayor Ronnie arrived at his office. On Friday, May 31, Athens Main Street, the Chamber of Commerce, the City of Athens, Athens State University’s Launch Box, Limestone County, merchants and attendees all came together on the east side of the Courthouse for Friday After Five. The band’s name was Juice out of Huntsville, and I must say it has been a minute since I have had so much fun.

The food trucks were out in full force, as were line dancers brave enough to go up near the courthouse steps. Every type and stripe of folk were there, and it was Athens at its beautiful, unscripted, diverse best. Kids were rolling down the courthouse lawn, and on the west side, right near the statue of Judge Horton, a spontaneous football game had started. Again, no one paid attention to color or age, the focus was fun and there was much of it to be had.

Saturday a serious event that also had a lot of humor woven in through out the day was the 6th Annual Addiction Eviction, sponsored by Ride With Me Ministries. Mayor Ronnie came at the opening ceremony to bless the organizers and attendees for their hard work in defeating drugs in Limestone County. The rain that fell all day did not have the ability to quench the spirit of the testimonies, music, food, and fellowship.

We talked about the 80th anniversary commemoration of D-Day, and one of Athens’ own, Cody Brown, was going to be part of the crew who would jump out of a plane on to “the beach” to replicate the bravery of those who made the assault by air that was part of what helped the USA finally defeat Nazi Germany. “What they did…” said the mayor. “There’s a reason why they are called the Greatest Generation,” I replied.

Mayor Ronnie had gone to a conference with the League of Municipalities, and once again Peter Kageyama, author of For the Love of the Cities was the keynote speaker. He illustrated why fun needs to be a very high priority in building any community, and talked about the necessity of building eye-catching attractions and public art for the purpose of bringing humor, creating curiosity, and giving families opportunities to explore together, and enjoy each other.

One of the other things Peter brought as part of his keynote was a slide of which Mayor Ronnie took a picture. It was pretty hard-hitting, and simply said, “No is a lazy answer.” We are not talking about a healthy set of personal boundaries or grappling with the fear of the disapproval of others; this was the type of no that is said when one does not want to expend the energy to explore what is possible in a city.

The time flew, as it always does, and there was only thing to do, and that was pray. And once again, it was time for Ronnie to roll.

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner