For many years, Moncks Corner, SC has held a 4th of July Street Dance at the Old Train Depot. Many locals jokingly refer to this event as the 4th of July Street "Stand Around And Talk With Your Neighbors" Dance. The familiar sounds of live beach music and oldies fill the air and some folks DO dance but, in actuality, it IS basically a chat and chew event. Countless small children run around the area unrestricted. Adults arrange their lawn chairs in front of whatever stage is set up for the band. And, folks mill about shaking hands and chatting with everyone else as if they are running for some office or the other. There is always a food truck where fried catfish or BBQ can be purchased. And, least we forget, there is a vender selling shave ice, which is always welcomed on a hot July night in the low country. All in all, the event is a treasure of Americana.
You know there is going to be a "BUT" don't you?
As is the case with most small Southern towns, parking in the "downtown" area is at a premium. Referring to the Train Depot area as "town center" is a bit of a stretch in generally accepted terms, but, on a very small scale, that is what it is. There are banks, restaurants, and various stores located in the immediate area. Each of these concerns have limited parking opportunities. Also, there are several undeveloped tracts of land nearby. Immediately adjacent to the Train Depot is a parcel of land housing a defunct grocery store and its accompanying, comparatively large parking lot. Historically, attendees to the event could park free of charge anywhere they could find an empty spot.
When we arrived for the festivities last night, all of the regular street parking spots were filled. All of the business parking areas were, also, filled. The search circle for a parking spot got wider and wider. Each full lot we passed had no attendant or any posted price for parking. Finally, we found a spot on a vacant lot some blocks from the event. At the entrance of this makeshift lot was a handwritten sign that said "FREE PARKING". We did not see any signs requiring payment for parking EXCEPT ONE.
As we walked from our parked car to the event, we had to pass the location of the old Piggly Wiggly property. The entire lot of the old store was cordoned off with tape. At the entrance stood several attendants at the ready to collect the $5.00 parking fee that was required to enter the lot. At the time I passed, there were very few cars that had taken advantage of this opportunity.
As the evening progressed, the parking fee being charged right next door to the event was a hot topic of discussion. It seems that locals had "taken a pass" on the advantage of parking so close to the event "for a price". Many people lamented that it was a shame that newcomers or folks from out of town might think this "pay to play" situation was customary.
In a world where customs and traditions are poo-pooed as old hat, it is refreshing to see so many people work so hard and make such an effort to make an annual event a success. The town did its part. The band did its part. The attendees did their part. Wouldn't it have been great if EVERYBODY had done their part?