Mainx24 returned to Chattanooga Saturday, December 2. The street parade has been occurring since 2007, and has become one of the main annual events for Southside.
The event occurs in Southside neighborhood. It commenced at 8 a.m. on Saturday and finished on the morning of Sunday December 3. The event itself was free, although many specific events cost extra.
Originally started by nonprofit CreateHere, the intention of the event is to “make Chattanooga a 24-hour city.” As Southside neighborhood continues to grow and change, the event provides an excellent measure for its revitalization. This is done by the involvement of various businesses and companies. Events were also held throughout the day to attract a broad and diverse audience.
Events included a petting zoo, mimosas, coffee and jazz, improv, art sales, music and others. Many events (as well as Mainx24 itself) were sponsored by local businesses such as Chattanooga Whisky, Chattanooga Choo Choo, EPB Fiber Optics, The Flying Squirrel, and ASA Engineering and Consulting among others. More than 100 total event occurred.
Some more eclectic events, such as the light up bicycle ride and a hypnosis show excited Main Street during the festival.
Many businesses also offered discounts to celebrate the local scene, such as Escape Experience and Songbirds Guitar museum (who offered free admission all day).
Said Covenant College graduate, Michael Fuller (‘17), “Mainx24 really exemplifies Chattanooga’s quirky and fun loving nature, while also supporting local businesses and traditions.”
The apex of the event was an hour long parade sponsored by EPB which started at 218 East Main street. Mainx24’s website describes the event thus: “We sparkle, we dance, we sing. We play, we wave, we smile. The best parade in town on the greatest day of the year.”
Nooga.com described the parade as: “the weirdest, most eclectic parade you are likely to see in Chattanooga all year.” Needless to say, the parade was perhaps the most entertaining event of the 24-hour event.
A new addition to the event this year was the inclusion of fireworks. GreenTech Homes sponsored the firework event at 7 p.m.
Various Chattanooga publications covered the event. Nooga.com published its annual multi-part guide to the event. Chattanooga magazine and the Times Free Press also published guides and articles about the event.
Many businesses reported that Mainx24 is the busiest event of the year for them. Such is the goal of the celebration, as it seeks to construct a more closely knit Southside community.
Southside is an urban neighborhood running from 12 Street to 20 Street (according to downtownchattanooga.org). The area prides itself on affordable housing as well as the area’s “finest restaurants” (such as Alleia, Bluegrass Grill, and Niedlov’s) and key attractions (such as the Chattanooga Choo Choo).
Southside was, in the past, the industrial center of Chattanooga. Many of these buildings were abandoned in the mid-20th century. However, around 10 years ago, the area began to revitalize — popular for its empty buildings and opportunity for development.
The process of revitalization began with the introduction of affordable housing in the area. This was followed by incentives to bring in businesses. According to Kim White of the River City Company, “What has happened since then is really amazing … with developers understanding there is a lot of demand and it is a very desirable place to live.”
Today, Main Street is a haven for arts and entertainment. Outdoor sculptures can be found scattered around the area as part of the Art on Main Street initiative. Main Street is also home to the HART Gallery and Area 61 Gallery. Both of these locations hosted shows during Mainx24.
With regards to entertainment, Southside boasts a more “intimate” setting than other areas, such as the riverfront. Chattanooga Brewing Company, Track 29, and The Comedy Catch enliven the area with quality local attractions.
Southside is also experiencing a growth in night life with locations such as Clyde’s and Southside Social. Mainx24 assists the Southside with this goal by facilitating evening events at these locations. These locations are home to games, food, and drinks, making excellent community gathering points within the burgeoning urban neighborhood.
Finley Stadium also occupies a large portion of Southside activity. The stadium home to both the U.T.C. (University of Tennessee at Chattanooga) Moc’s football games, as well as larger events such as the U.S.A. Women’s Soccer team taking on Costa Rica in 2015.
As local entrepreneurs continue to flock to Southside, events such as Mainx24 assist in its growth and revitalization. The event will occur again in December of 2018. In the meantime, restaurants, arts and attractions will continue to pop up in the growingly popular urban neighborhood.
Main street has not only become a popular section of the city, but a crucial and foundational part of local identity. Much of Chattanooga’s history and tradition rests in this pocket. Mainx24 draws attention to these qualities, helping businesses, residences, and arts to flourish.