Published Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Guest Column: No Black Friday in downtown Newnan

By NORMA HAYNES

Special to The Newnan Times-Herald

I never really understood what “Black Friday” was supposed to mean, but for weeks, that is all I heard or read about — Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, which for some began on Thanksgiving Day.

Friday after Thanksgiving, I turned on the television briefly to get the weather and was amazed to see the mobs in the parking lots, the long lines outside stores and the mobs of people rushing through store doors. For a moment I stood there in stunned silence, finding it hard to believe what I was seeing.

Then, I went to town. As I have said so often, I never referred to it as “Downtown.” It was always “Uptown.” And for me, that is what it will always be. What a gorgeous day it was with the sun quickly warming up all of us who were on the streets. There was plenty of parking, and I couldn’t wait to begin my stroll around our beautiful town.

Young families, with children in strollers, were on the sidewalks, window shopping and going in and out of stores. There were folks sitting on the benches all around the Courthouse and on the benches outside the stores. People were eating outside the restaurants and inside as well. The stores were all dressed in their Christmas best, and everywhere I went I met someone I knew. It was a joy to walk into the stores and be greeted by the owners and the friendly clerks who offered their help and who told me to make myself at home.

Though I wasn’t shopping for anything in particular, I got so many great ideas in those little shops and can’t wait to return to start my shopping seriously.

This day so reminded me of the Newnan Uptown long ago. It was so relaxing and so wonderful to pass folks on the street and see smiles and stop and visit for a short while. Everybody I ran into was in a happy mood. Grandparents were taking photos of their young treasures who sat in the sleigh beside the great tree. You could hear the laughter of children as they delighted in seeing the sleigh and the tree.

As I strolled around, I remembered some of the stores long gone now where I could walk in and know every one who worked there. It is so refreshing to have that very same feeling all these many years later. No matter what shop or store you go into in Downtown (as it is called now) Newnan, you can be sure you will get personal attention and friendly smiles.

I spent the better part of my morning and some of the afternoon just meeting and greeting friends and strangers as they, too, walked around our town and in and out of our shops and restaurants. I don’t remember ever having a better Black Friday.

When I returned home, I thought of all those who had spent a harried day shopping in crowds. Yes, I well remember worrying that I wouldn’t be able to get that “certain” toy for my child, and I too have been caught up in trying to get it and get it at a good price.

Later in the evening, I drove through Downtown and never saw a prettier sight. I am so grateful to those men and women who put the lights around the buildings, placed the lights around the tree trunks, hung the wreaths and the snowflakes and who set up that pretty tree, and I am grateful that our city fathers have supported our town in its efforts to make the city look magical at this beautiful season of the year.

Since Santa was on his throne by the sleigh and beside the tree, the little children were delighted to see all of this, and it was made possible through the work of many. I am so thankful to have lived in a small town all these many years of my life and am grateful that many of the traditions I so love have been kept, especially the genuine kindness of all those who work in our stores.

For those who spent Black Friday in long lines and in crowds, I hope they will come to Downtown Newnan one sunny day and experience the wonderful feeling that I enjoyed on Black Friday.

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