Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Where to Go When You Gotta Go

The latest topic of interest in the Holy City is where and how to find a public restroom. City officials insist that there are enough bathrooms to go around, but visitors complain that they can't find them. I agree with both sides. There are facilities in most parking garages and city buildings (City Hall, the Dock Street Theater, City Market, City Gallery at Waterfront Park) and also at Moultrie Playground (near Colonial Lake) and Hazel Parker Playground (near High Battery). We locals know where to look. But what about the visitors? I don't know the best way to alert the public about the whereabouts of the restrooms, but perhaps the tour guides, carriage drivers, street vendors and rickshaw drivers can help. As a tour guide, I have often been asked by passersby as well as folks on my tours where to find a bathroom. I think that anyone in the tourism industry who comes in contact with visitors on the street can be helpful with sharing this much-needed information. So let's not add any bathrooms at the parks, as they will undoubtedly become eyesores and detract from the beauty of our city. But let's make sure we know where the facilities are and send people in the right direction. I also was pleased to see that the city has a website with a map showing the bathrooms. I, for one, will keep a copy or two of the map from the city's website handy for my patrons. Being the most polite city in the country, this is yet another way that we can make our visitors feel welcome.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Memorial Day

Today, cannons were heard booming at the Battery. Nothing to fear - the city wasn't under attack. The shots were fired by Civil War re-enactors commemorating Confederate Memorial Day. Some state offices were closed for the holiday. The War Between the States was a difficult time for our country. The reasons for the conflict are often discussed and often are sources of disagreement. However, the men on both sides who fought were brave men. Many on both sides gave their lives not for a single political issue but simply because their country called them. This was true for men in both the Union and the Confederate armies and is true for men (and women) who have died in battle throughout history. Sometimes the reason for the conflict becomes lost over the course of the war. In several weeks, the country will commemorate another Memorial Day which will honor members of the military who have given their lives in far too many wars our country has waged. May they all rest in peace.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Palmetto Roses

The other day, a young man about 17 years old approached me and offered to sell me a rose made from the palms of the Palmetto tree. There are usually several kids selling them at the Battery, but this guy was on Anson Street, a block from the City Market. I told him no thanks, and he then said, "Well here. You can have one anyway." I have a feeling that he figured I'd give him some money anyway, but instead I thanked him and asked him where he usually sells them. He said at Waterfront Park. I told him I'd send some business his way. So if you are in the park, look for the kid with the cornrows. Although this is a great venture for kids to earn a little extra money and let visitors take a unique hand-made memento home with them, the kids are supposed to be wearing a badge, much like those that the tour guides wear. A few years ago, kids were climbing trees that were on private property in order to get the palms. The mayor said that, although they were trespassing, he thought something positive could come out of this. Since then, the rose weavers have been given permission to sell the roses (although they must get the palms from other sources). Those who wear the badges have gone through an "enterpreneur-in-training" course sponsored by the city. So support them as they get a healthy dose of operating a small business. However, please buy only from those kids who can show you a badge. As of late, I've noticed quite a few vendors who don't have the badges, and when I've asked them to show their badge, they claim they've either lost it or left it home. Chances are their excuses are bogus, and they often try to sell their flowers for an inflated price. Most card-carrying vendors sell the flowers for $2 or $3 a piece. Our city prides itself on the way it balances tourism and livabilty, so support those who follow the city guidelines. Otherwise, it's not fair to the vendors who do so and only encourages those who don't to continue to outsmart the system that's in place for the good of all of us.