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Calling all street performers

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Sometimes we criticize they way things are going in downtown Greensboro, but that doesn’t mean we don’t support the renaissance that has taken place there over the past three years or that we don’t appreciate the resurgence of the city’s most storied district.

Downtown is the playground of choice for many YES! Weekly staffers. We shop there. We walk the sidewalks. We go to restaurants. We drink.

And yes, we criticize. We criticize because we care.

So when we say that downtown Greensboro is sorely lacking in a significant aspect of city life, we say it with love in our hearts.

Yes, the downtown area has become an urban oasis of sorts, with as much action as it’s ever seen. We now have street vendors, late-night restaurants, beaucoup art galleries and bars. We’ve got those cool garbage-eating golf carts that look like tiny elephants. We’ve even got a woman pedaling people around on a bicycle rickshaw, for crying out loud.

But what we don’t have is street performers.

You know’… the jugglers and clowns and horn players and caricaturists and Tarot card readers who set up shop anywhere people congregate and peddle their talents and wares for dollars and loose change.

Every city worth its salt has got these deadbeats taking up the nooks and crannies of their pedestrian byways. Why not us?

True, the Cakalak Thunder drum corps has been performing on the downtown streets with some regularity for the past couple years and will likely continue through the summer. But they represent only a single stripe of the broad spectrum of street performers that are out there.

We’ve got the sidewalks and we’ve got the foot traffic, especially in the warmer months when the Grasshoppers are in town and the crowds from First Horizon Park filter eastward to the nightspots on Elm and Greene streets.

The public space in Center City Park, that hopefully will be ready for action before the next freeze, (and we’re watching ‘— we’ve had a YES! Weekly box held hostage behind the chain-link fence for like a year) is a perfect spot for painters to set up on a moonlit Carolina evening. A horn player could make great use of the acoustics in the alley by Chakras on Elm Street. A street dance team could set out their cardboard in Hamburger Square if it was a little better lit at night. Festival Park, just outside Café Europa, would make a great spot for three guys to huddle together and sing doo wop.

How about acrobats on Church Street or a ventriloquist on Tate? A banjoist with a spoonman outside the courthouse on Eugene?

And the clowns’… don’t forget about the clowns. While some would argue that there are already too many clowns in downtown Greensboro, we think one should set up weekends right on the corner of Elm and McGee streets, one with a big red wig who makes balloon sculpture for the kiddies in the afternoon and dirty balloon sculpture for the barhoppers at night.

Then, we daresay, it will start to feel even more like a city around here.

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