Granted, travelers generally like directions and signs to tell them where they are standing or going. But has anyone ever considered that the banners are like fences? Will tourists go beyond the banners into the unknown? What happens to the businesses past the banners? Take, for example, my favorite coffee shop. It is two blocks beyond where the banners hang. It’s just two blocks extra of a walk (a short two blocks, not New York City length). Many people have trouble finding it, even though it’s visible on a corner, because they don’t think to walk that way. And now, with the added implication of a boundary created by the downtown banners, people will probably have even less of an inclination to walk an extra few blocks.
Clearly, I am not a fan of banners indicating where people should walk, especially in a town as small as Southern Pines. Banners are adding a “Mickey-Mouse” effect of a cleaned up historic downtown. Southern Pines also has brick sidewalks, if you’re wondering. Banners would not have been on the lampposts historically, so why do they have to be there now?
It is all for the “charm” of this pretty southern town. Southern Pines is a family town, but it is also a tourist town and tourists like the cleaned up, quaint version of history, as do people who live here. Tourists like the melding of history and present, with only the best, prettiest aspects combined. Right? That means brick sidewalks, cute store signs, matching open and closed signs for all the stores and boutiques, and historic downtown banners.
To play devil’s advocate to myself, I do like Southern Pines. I enjoy walking around downtown and strolling on those brick sidewalks. If people enjoy where they live, then I am glad that a town can create a pleasant atmosphere for its residents. People can choose how their town looks, and if they are doing so with some form of respect for its historic resources, then I am thankful for their efforts. But, historic downtown banners that actually say the word charm on them? Really? Is that necessary? Why not let people walk where they want and discover historic downtown on their own? What about my favorite coffee shop? Do we really need banners? When do they serve an actual, beneficial purpose?
You see? This past and present combination is a never ending discussion of never ending tangents.