Friday, July 3, 2009

Independence Day in St. Louis

I asked our Patchwork Nation bloggers if the economy was causing changes to their July 4 plans. In some places, like Nixa, Mo., the city canceled it's Independence Day event because of budget constraints.

Here are the responses from St. Louis:

Steven Fitzpatrick Smith, Tavern Keeper at The Royale Food & Spirits
This will now be my fifth summer in business for myself as a tavern keeper of the Royale in South Saint Louis. I live above my bar and restaurant, making it a true public house open seven days a week from morning to late night. For the past four years we had been open on the 4th of July, for I am open on nearly every holiday, but this year I decided to take a break. Granted only a one day break, but we will be shut down on the 4th of July in honor of Independence Day, and my sanity.

Last year I snuck into the abandoned yet architecturally beautiful Spivey building in East Saint Louis, the tallest structure on the east side at 14 floors. I watched the fireworks and then went down to the street party in downtown East Saint Louis full of families from the East Saint Louis. This year I will likely lay low in my house which will have a rare moment of quiet, and then I will go to a party atop the Southside National Bank Building, one of the tallest and grandest buildings in South City. It had become abandoned in the 90s, but has since come back to life as high rise condos and office/retail. The Southside National Bank rehab is one of the great examples of how we have reclaimed South Saint Louis preserving our heritage and using it to our advantage to enrich our community.

Meanwhile East Saint Louis continues to languish with the Spivey sitting empty with plans of demolition.

Eric M. Madkins, Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis:

For July 4th, I will spend the weekend with my family. It will be a "staycation." My kids love to swim, so my wife and I will search for an area pool. After swimming, we will then fire up the grill and relax with family and friends at home. By nightfall, we will go to Fair St. Louis near the St. Louis Arch grounds and enjoy the fireworks show. Our plans never change from year to year. The economy has not factored either directly or indirectly with our 4th of July planning, specifically; however, the increase of gas prices during the summer months in general has affected some thoughts of traveling to visit family, even in neighboring states such as Oklahoma and Illinois. The current economic conditions give way to creativity. Staying "home" gives a middle class family such as mine (wife-school teacher and me-nonprofit management/3 kids), reason to be thankful and appreciate the "simple things," during these rough times.

Angelia D. Bills, Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis:
This year we will spend July 4th with family due to my husband's recent knee surgery. In the past we have went to Chicago on the 4th but it was just not feasible this year.

Chris Krehmeyer, Beyond Housing
For the 2nd straight year I will be in the St. Louis July 4th parade along with my 14 year old son and a friend of his. We will be part of the Chinese Dragon group. It was great fun last year – passed out a lot of candy! We never traveled over the July 4th holiday and did not necessarily have a great patriotic zeal around the day. It was a reason to get family and friends together and barbeque and drink cold beer!

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