It’s truly remarkable what’s going on downtown!
On weekend nights—it’s often difficult to find a parking space.
How about a one hour wait at El Barrio downtown for a recent Saturday night dinner?
First there was Railroad Park, then Regions Field, and next thing you know, restaurants, bars, hotels, commercial, apartments, and condominiums are popping up everywhere.
Ideas that may have seemed far-fetched ten years ago are now not only possible, but likely.
It was surreal
Last December my family was enjoying the active exhibits at the McWane Center, when I witnessed something surreal.
I was startled to hear crowd noise outside—so I looked through the large landscaped windows of the McWane Center onto 3rd Avenue North.
The Alabama Theatre’s showing of White Christmas had just concluded and attendees were streaming onto the sidewalk. Quite frankly, for ten minutes, 3rd Avenue North looked like New York’s Time Square.
Then the unexpected—people stopped suddenly, pulled out their phones, and started taking pictures of themselves and family members next to the stars in the sidewalk.
A simple idea from thirty years ago
Have you ever walked outside the Alabama Theatre and looked down to see the stars embedded in the rose-colored marble with the names of famous Alabamians?
The Alabama Walk of Fame was created to honor extraordinary Alabamians in a fashion similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame in California.
According to Bham Wiki an induction ceremony was held September 9, 1989 at the Alabama Theatre. Many of the original sixteen honorees actually attended the induction ceremony in person.
There have been only three other recipients in the thirty years since.
Because there have been no recent inductees, most people probably don’t recognize the names of many of the honorees like Tallulah Bankhead, Pat Buttram, or Dean Jones.
Hollywood Walk of Fame
The Alabama Walk of Fame was modeled after the Hollywood Walk of Fame, undoubtedly one of the most successful marketing ideas of all times.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame is comprised of more than 2,600 stars of celebrities who have achieved international recognition. With about 24 induction ceremonies annually broadcast around the world, it attracts more than 10 million visitors a year.
Birmingham’s not Hollywood but…
Birmingham’s not Hollywood, but we Alabamians take great pride in our state.
Wouldn’t it be fun to go downtown to show your children the stars of great Alabama musicians and singers like Lionel Richie, Nat King Cole, Percy Sledge, Wilson Pickett, W.C. Handy, Emmylou Harris, or Hank Williams? Or Academy Award and Golden Globe winner Octavia Spencer?
To celebrate incredible athletes like: Joe Lewis, Jesse Owens, Hank Aaron, Charles Barkley, Carl Lewis, Willie Mays, Satchel Paige, Mia Hamm, and Evander Holyfield?
To take pride in Alabama icons like Helen Keller, George Washington Carver, Harper Lee, Tim Cook, and Condoleezza Rice.
There are obviously many, many more.
Revive Alabama Walk of Fame
Let’s revive the Alabama Walk of Fame.
The stars are already embedded in the sidewalk.
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce holds trademark rights to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Maybe the Birmingham Business Alliance (our chamber of Commerce), REV Birmingham, or the Sidewalk Film Festival Board could organize it?
The Alabama Walk of Fame could become a profitable fund raiser, source of pride, tourist attraction, and learning experience for our children.
Yes, little Emma or Jaylen, you can grow up in Alabama and one day be recognized on the Alabama Walk of Fame.
Current Alabama Walk of Fame recipients:
- Phillip Alford, actor, To Kill a Mockingbird
- John Badham, director
- Mary Badham, actress, To Kill a Mockingbird
- Tallulah Bankhead, actress
- Pat Buttram, actor
- Nell Carter, actress
- Truman Capote, author
- Fannie Flagg, actress and author
- Louise Fletcher, actress
- James Hatcher
- Jake Hess, “Mr. Gospel Music”
- Polly Holliday, actress
- Kate Jackson, actress
- Dean Jones, actor
- Harper Lee, author, To Kill a Mockingbird
- George Lindsey, actor
- Stanleigh Malotte, musician
- Jim Nabors, actor
- Wayne Rogers, actor
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David Sher is Co-Founder of AmSher Compassionate Collections. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).
Invite David to speak to your group for free about a better Birmingham. firstname.lastname@example.org