While Labor Day vacationers slogged through traffic, about 600 people gathered Monday in downtown Greensboro to celebrate a new parking deck.
The beginning of MetroMania featured bands, balloons and ribbon-cutting ceremonies in the first of a series of events designed to showcase downtown Greensboro.``During all the construction downtown, it was difficult to get around downtown and impossible to park,' said Jimmy Black, co-chairman of the event. ``We want to crack the myth that there is no parking downtown and show that the streets have been repaved and are now open.'
MetroMania is a privately funded effort backed by more than $50,000 in donations from downtown businesses. While only a handful of shops were open for the celebration, Black and Betty Cone, who co-chair the event, said the goal of the program is to promote downtown as both a neighborhood and commercial hub.
Monday's festivities centered on the opening of the new Bellemeade Parking Deck at the corner of Bellemeade and Greene streets. The deck will add 1,276 new parking spaces downtown. To celebrate the coming together of downtown, marching bands from the city's four high schools - Dudley, Grimsley, Page and Smith - paraded from different points in the city and met at Jefferson Square.
Cone said downtown Greensboro has had more than $100 million in new construction in the past two years - the most dramatic change the city has had since the building boom of the 1920s.
``We want people to come and see the wonderful changes in downtown Greensboro and feel pride in their city,' Cone said.
Monday's event was the first of many scheduled in the coming months. Events will include a weekly treasure hunt, arts competitions and festivities for downtown workers, senior citizens and children. MetroMania will culminate with a New Year's Eve light and laser show downtown.