The Holiday Exodus
As commercial-strength leaf blowers compete against autumn's cold, cruel winds, colorful leaves fly about and still dot the collective landscape. Despite the efforts of "leaf clean-ups," the ground becomes prettier while the trees transform into nakedness. Winter is on its way indeed. The air is filled with the smells of burnt wood and leaves. Beyond all of that, it becomes quiet in these parts. Scores of people leave town to enjoy Thanksgiving week with family. A certain amount of folks stay in town during these holiday weeks, but many "get out of Dodge" in these times.
Welcome to the New South.
An amazing amount of progress has taken place over the past 40 years in the Atlanta metro area. Folks mostly from the Northeast and Midwest settle here for great jobs, a place to build families and an excellent quality of life. Admittedly a handful settled in the Atlanta metro area from other parts of the South, Plains and West, but a great deal like myself hail from the Midwest.
"Build it and they will come," is the mantra to regional success and this area is no exception. The same could be said of one of my uncles who left the Midwest for the early 1960s West Coast. Just like "the ATL," Southern California leaders worked in conjunction with developers and businesspeople to build up the greater Los Angeles area thus attracting millions like my Uncle Sonny who once ran a bar in Pasadena (insert joke: "Just to see a man die" -- I have no idea why my uncle made me think of Johnny Cash all this time).
Just like the L.A. metro area, the Atlanta metro area has been getting into the film and video production business. There could be some downsides to turning the area into "Hollywood South," but it looks like Atlanta is getting a similar amount of momentum that Los Angeles has been experiencing -- albeit on a far smaller scale. I doubt that there will be a mass Hollywood exodus, thus making builders scramble to build mansions for the likes of say, actor Brad Pitt and his "army of a family."
I'm certain that Mr. Pitt, his family and the rest of Hollywood would be more than welcome to lay down roots in Georgia. If there is one thing that we love in the Peach State, it would be growth. I confess that this is a welcoming state and I've enjoyed most of my time here except for dealing with traffic. I'm still not sure if the traffic is worse here or in the L.A. metro area. There's probably a lot of debate on that subject.
While I'm proud to say that I've been a part of this New South growth, I'm still troubled at this time of the year. After each Thanksgiving or Christmas exodus, I feel that most folks still haven't truly laid roots down here. There are too many who cheer on their hometown teams - some even against the local ball clubs. Perhaps I'm guilty as charged as well, but I've been here over 25 years and I'm definitely not in an "Ohio State of Mind." Do not get me wrong. I love visiting my hometown, but I'm just not an "Ohio Buckeye." I'm proud when the Cleveland Browns, Indians or Cavaliers do well, but like over 15-20 years ago, I'm not exactly rooting for them any longer.
As one might suspect, I'm conflicted on this issue. While I'm not a major NFL fan, I'm excited about the Cleveland Browns' visit to town. Either way, I'm happy whoever wins that game. It wasn't like that during the 1995 World Series. It had been years since the Indians won a World Series, so I was quietly rooting for them. On the other hand, Atlanta needed to win the "Fall Classic" that year. They failed to earn that trophy in their previous attempts. As history showed, Cleveland re-appeared in the World Series just two years later only to lose it to the overpriced then-Florida Marlins.
After all these years of folks moving to the Atlanta metro area, the city, suburbs and exurbs feels like a big college town where most people leave during Thanksgiving and Christmas week. Of course one would not experience those feelings on Black Friday when somehow whoever is left in town converges on shopping centers at the craziest hours. These days there is all the rage about stores opening up on Thanksgiving Day. I say if the stores wish to open, then it's the nation's choice to ditch the Thanksgiving table to purchase the latest tablet and/or big screen television.
I do hope that I'm wrong about this perceived mass exodus. Perhaps more folks are staying in town, laying down roots and plan to make the Atlanta metro area their home for years and hopefully, generations to come.