Who'd have thunk an alcohol-driven soiree could cause such a stink in Cabbagetown, where the unofficial pastime is backyard keg parties? The folks behind art festivals in the Old Fourth Ward, Piedmont Park and Chastain Park — Sean O'Keefe Events and the Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces — are holding an "avant-garde, European-style" masquerade party next Saturday in the Krog Street Tunnel. But some angry Reynoldstown and Cabbagetown residents have been vocal about their objections, claiming that organizers barreled ahead with plans despite a lack of community support. The event is billed as "a sultry underground experience like no other," but detractors say it'll cut off a vital artery to the neighborhoods for an inappropriate amount of time. A couple of weeks ago, we caught up with event promoter Randall D. Fox for their take. In the following letter, a relatively new Cabbagetown resident voices concerns that the masquerade runs contrary to everything that made her choose to buy a home there in the first place.
Cabbagetown is a community that knows how to party. When my husband and I bought our home here earlier this year, it was after going to one of the nearly monthly parties and events that the neighborhood organizes. Surrounded by a group of revelers from all walks of life, we looked at each other and said — this is the place for us.
Nine months later, I found myself at a community meeting where the now controversial Krog Masquerade was being discussed. In the midst of a heated back and forth with Randall Fox of the Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces around concerns from the community, one neighbor's question stood out:
"Our neighborhood loves a good party, and we would have loved to have been a part of this. Why didn't you involve us?"
As any party-going person knows, and certainly anyone who's enjoyed great events like the Lantern Parade, a great party is all about we the people. Events like the Lantern Parade take organizers, but they are successful because they're collaborative; they continue to grow with the energy and creativity of the public. It's all part of the same unique and welcoming vibe that makes Cabbagetown, and Atlanta, a place that people want to come to and be a part of. Great parties, like great cities, are not places you just show up to — they are something you are a part of.
More than a hassle, the Krog Masquerade is a disappointment. It's a disappointment because it could have been an event that involved the community from the start, and with the great spirit our neighborhood is known for, could have been an event twice the size and twice the fun. That did not happen, and the frustration of the community over the lack of involvement and transparency has now been well reported.
As Atlanta continues to grow, becoming a truly great city will mean harnessing the diverse creativity of our communities. It will mean ensuring that public spaces are truly leveraging the talent and ideas of local residents. The discussion over the Masquerade is ultimately not about Cabbagetown — it's about our commitment to public participation in the city and to the arts as a true public-private partnership.