Monday, November 19, 2007

Something Fishy in Silver Spring?

Silver Spring. For years it thrived - for years it died. When I was a kid, I used to spend Thanksgiving night with my oldest brother and his wife so I could go to the big Silver Spring Christmas parade which was always held the day after Thanksgiving. I don't know when they stopped having it, but most people I ask don't remember one. Silver Spring faltered- I guess sometime in the seventies. Then came years of speculation of how to revive the failing downtown. One idea was a Mall of America. At least THAT fell through, but in its place is a sort of faux Main Street- or Same Street- chain after chain store. It's so much a mall that my friend, Chip Py was told in no uncertain terms not to take pictures, as it is private property, thus spawning the Great Silver Spring Photographer's Anti Massacre Movement. (O.K. I borrowed that from Alice's Restaurant. Remember when WHFS used to play that EVERY Thanksgiving day ? But I digress) Anyway the new developpement seems to be a whopping success. So many people come there now you need a freight elevator to get them out of the parking lot. And that huge expanse of astro turf is often covered with frolicking patrons.
But not all of Silver Spring has turned over by any means.
The Silver Theater now houses the AFI, and little places are holding on like Dale Music, Crisfield's, Vincino's and The Quarry House. The Tastee Diner was saved and moved. The Acorn Gazebo (circa 1850!) which presides over the silver spring, is still there- though the park is tiny. And check out Jackie's Restaurant. She took over an old car parts shop and made it her own amazing spot.
Maybe all these big places are helping the little ones stay for now, or maybe it's the calm before another storm of mega chains which could include a totalitarian corporate music venue as The Birchmere deal fell through. Last weekend, however, I suddenly found myself marching down Georgia Avenue- not in a protest but in... a parade. I don't live in Silver Spring so I had no idea, but the Thanksgiving parade is back. It didn't look like anything I remembered, until I spotted a bunch of well worn plastic reindeer pulling a suspiciously familar float. Someone must have held onto that old stuff-stored it away just in case- just like someone held onto the theater and the diner and the acorn. Old Silver Spring still lives. Change can be good. Change is helping Silver Spring to thrive, but hold on, everybody - just in case.

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