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Feel Good Friday: Burning Love Festival

Allison Blood, KMOX News
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Heart at Grand Basin during Burning Love Festival. Photo Credit - Allison Blood, KMOX

Heart at Grand Basin during Burning Love Festival. Photo Credit – Allison Blood, KMOX

allison-blood Allison Blood
Allison Blood grew up in St. Louis County and attended Parkway West...
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Feel Good Friday is a blog examining the lighter side of news.

Tuesday night was a dark and muddy one on Art Hill for the 250th Birthday party for St. Louis. The Burning Love Festival was supposed to be over the weekend, but this winter that just wouldn’t quit held it off until Tuesday.

Though the snow and freezing temperatures stopped, the warm up left the ground a soupy mess. I sloshed through the mud on Tuesday night, getting pictures, losing a shoe to the slop at one point, and talked to people . Just the casual “So, what do you think?”

Before I got there, several people, mostly other media types, were tweeting about how sparse the attendance was. I’ll admit, there was room for at least 10 times the number of people that showed up. There was a small air of disappointment in those messages. This was it! Our big birthday bash…and nobody came.

So I walked up to couples holding hands, looking down at the big hearts at the Grand Basin. I expected them to say something like “Oh, it’s alright. At least it’s not cold” But they were genuinely happy, and having a good time. Most people commented on how muddy it was, or that there wasn’t a lot of lighting. But they loved the food, they loved the music.  Some danced. They huddled around the small bon fires the city set up at the top of the hill, and they just enjoyed themselves.

Perhaps though, the happiest people there weren’t the college kids or the lovers or the St. Louis dignitaries up in the elevated VIP tent with no mud and heaters and free food. They were the new-comers. I talked to a family that had just moved here a month ago. Each parent had a small kid hoisted up on their side on one arm, a sandwich in the other hand. They were surprised the city this huge event, for free! They loved that the city was “doing things” for its citizens. I talked to a 20-something who just moved here from Dallas. He says he was exploring the city that night, and just ran across the Burning Love Festival. He was talking to me about all the city and it’s free attractions. “You just don’t find that everywhere.”

And maybe we don’t find the things that make our city great everywhere.  It’s easy to look at buildings that have been empty for years and think, what a waste. It’s easy to look at school districts losing accreditation, and get discouraged.  And we shouldn’t ignore those things.

But pride and disappointment are not mutually exclusive emotions. We can know there’s work to be done, and appreciate the things that are wonderful.

It is a shame more people didn’t make the trip out to the Burning Love Festival on Tuesday night. I know it was a school night for a lot of families, and though it wasn’t sub-zero with a wind chill, it still wasn’t warm out. But maybe these new-comers had it right. It would be nice to see the city through fresh eyes.

After all, you don’t see a giant flaming heart just anywhere.
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