The magic of Main Street

Published 9:12 am Thursday, January 6, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By SASHA JOHNS | Community Columnist

America is full of small towns, but I’m convinced I live in the best one.

I came to Columbiana in January of 2018 having no idea what I was about to become a part of. I moved into a tiny little century-old home so close to the county courthouse that I could hear the dome clock chime every hour.

It was a good two months before a gas main break during the removal of a large tree in my yard forced me out of my cozy house and up to Main Street to kill a little time for an afternoon.

In my most worn-out jeans and sweatshirt, hair barely brushed and zero makeup on due to the speed with which I exited my house, I walked up Depot to Main. That day I met with the magic of Columbiana and realized I was living in what seemed like a real-life Hallmark movie set.

I met shop owners. I got a milkshake at Davis Drugs. I admired beautiful window displays. I learned all about town events like Cowboy and Liberty Day. I made some of my first real Columbiana friends like Linda Cook of Busy Hands and Bruce Andrews of the Shelby County Arts Council. It was the day I fully embraced what was becoming my chosen hometown.

Main Street is more than a place. It’s the heart of not just Columbiana, but of the whole county. There are plenty of larger towns in Shelby county, with more hustle and bustle on any given day, but it all started here.

Every time we have a parade (there were five last year) you can feel the heartbeat of a community that loves to celebrate. Every mural speaks to our history and creativity. The constant rotation of decorations declares our pride, and every time we shut down the road you know there is going to be a fantastic party whether it’s a spirit-pumping pep rally or live band that gets you on your feet and dancing.

Old fellas get breakfast at Davis. Children pose with Pumpkin Kids and Christmas trees for their mamas. Cheerleaders paint windows. Families dress their historic homes in everything from patriotic bunting to Christmas lights. Churches host advent festivals, Easter egg hunts, vacation bible schools and football dinners. The Pride of Shelby County marches. Historians mine memories at the museum. Friends grab coffee at Leaders Corner. First haircuts happen just beyond the barber’s pole. Teenage boys pick up corsages for prom dates. Folks still grab their Sunday papers. And it all happens on a one-mile strip in the heart of the county seat.

Columbiana’s Main Street is special. It’s magic. Its newly lit canopy beckons and welcomes the rest of the county and beyond to come and visit. It’s the root of a kind of place that is becoming harder to find these days. The hub of a city that sets a beautiful example for what a community that cares for each other can look like. It shows how valuing, cultivating, and protecting fun, community spirit, history and local art can bring folks of all kinds together. And I’m lucky enough to live here.