It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

    It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

    My neighbor Vince’s Christmas lights display

    One of the best things about the holiday season is the Christmas lights—it almost makes it feel OK that it’s starting to get dark as I’m on my way home from work to see homes and businesses and city streets lit up with festive displays of lights. Looking out my own front window, I can see my across-the-street neighbor Vince’s front yard full of holiday lights, and it’s so cheery.

    If you don’t have a Vince in your neighborhood, or if you just can’t get enough of holiday lights and want to see more, here are some places where you can go to see some impressive displays:

    The Greenville Pickens Speedway Upstate Holiday Light Show has a traditional light show and one just for kids, and the whole thing lasts 30 minutes. You can either drive around the track to see everything, or park and enjoy the show, tuning your car radio to 104.3 FM for the traditional show or 92.1 FM for the kids’ show. Santa’s workshop, ice skating, and a petting zoo/pony corral are also available, so you can make an evening of it! Cost: $20 per car (additional $5 for ice skating and $10 for pictures with Santa, although there’s no charge to visit the workshop). Address: 3800 Calhoun Memorial Hwy, Easley, SC 29640

    Anderson Lights of Hope

    Anderson Lights of Hope has 5 miles of lights, and in addition to enjoying the light show, you can feel good about the fact that 100% of the proceeds go to benefit children and adults with disabilities in Anderson County. There is also a Santa Village, and on December 23rd, a Princess Night with Elsa. Cost: $10 per vehicle, or $20 for a bus with 15 or more passengers. Address: Old Country Farm Circle, Anderson, SC 29625

    Hollywild Lights Safari is always a popular one, allowing visitors to drive through the 100-acre park to see the lights, stop by to see Santa and his animals in Santa’s village—and get a panoramic view of the lights from Mrs. Claus’s attic, and drive through the Enchanted Deer Forest for an extra $10 per vehicle and feed the animals from your car! Cost: $6 per person (children under 2 free). Address:  2325 Hampton Rd, Inman, SC

    Hollywood Lights Safari

    For an indoor experience, check out the holiday laser shows in the planetarium at the Roper Mountain Science Center! Choose from A Trans-Siberian Christmas or Holiday Wonderland for an unforgettable show (not recommended for children under 5). It’s advisable to purchase tickets ahead for this one and arrive early. Cost: $8 per person, or $4 for RMSC members. Address: 402 Roper Mountain Road, Greenville, SC 29615

    Facebook user Jimmy Medlin alerted me to the 5M Farm Holiday Light Show in Powdersville, and Maggie Powers posted a video of a very cool lights display on our Facebook page—it’s located on Burris Road in Lyman, and the lights are on from 6:00–10:00 p.m. For a list of neighborhood displays in the Greenville area, courtesy of Greater Greenville Area Homes, click here. And there are plenty more across the upstate, which you can find at Upstate Christmas Light Shows (an interactive map of those displays can be found here).

    Reflections from a Decade Flying By

    Reflections from a Decade Flying By

    I am sure you are familiar with the old saying “time flies when you are having fun.” Well, I am not always sure about the having fun part, but when I think back on the last decade, there seems to be little question about whether time flies.

    It certainly doesn’t seem like 10 years ago that my wife (Suzy) and I packed up our family (2 kids and 2 cats) to move to South Carolina.

    At the time, our daughter Bethany was five and our son Nate was four and neither was taller than the holly bushes in the front of the house we moved into in Greer. The two cats (Rock and Princess) were kittens that a neighbor in Florida had rescued and had been part of our family for just a few months.

    I need no more confirmation about time flying than to now look at all of them a decade later.

    Bethany is a ninth grader at Riverside High School and is taller than her mother, though likely not to make it to 5-foot-3. She loves art, spending time with her friends and was even in a drama production at school earlier this year.

    Now an eighth grader at the Charles Townes Center at Sterling School, Nate is not quite as tall as me, but I am sadly afraid that it won’t be much longer that I am the tallest person among our immediate family. He has spent quite a bit of time on a baseball field and basketball court and also enjoys playing the trumpet and euphonium.

    Once cute little kittens, our two now large cats (both over 15 pounds) spend much of their time torturing the dog (Nonni) that joined our family five years ago and carrying yarn, socks and just about anything else they can find around the house.

    But, of course, it is not just my family that has grown and changed over the last decade.

    Growth of the Upstate

    When we moved to the Upstate, the 10-county region had slightly more than 1,362,000 residents. Roughly a decade later, the population in the region is pushing 1,480,000 people.

    Yet, much like the growth of my kids and kittens, the growth within the Upstate over the last decade also was generally expected as the region is ultimately projected to reach 1,750,000 residents by 2040.

    That is why leaders from across the region began conversations more than 15 years ago about how to better work together to understand and impact the population growth in the Upstate so that we can shape that growth, rather than be shaped by the growth.

    One of the outcomes of those initial discussions was the formation of Ten at the Top, which I have been blessed to serve in the capacity of Executive Director since the official creation of the organization a decade ago.

    During my decade here in the Upstate, I have been given the great fortune to meet and work with many exceptional leaders and professionals who all truly care about the place they call home.

    With virtually no exception, those who are in positions in the Upstate that are directly or indirectly engaged in how we are growing as a region are dedicated to ensuring that this very special place remains special and unique even as we grow.

    We may not all always agree about what exactly that growth means and looks like, but it is generally understood that vibrant communities are growing communities. So, the goal is not to stop population growth in the Upstate, but instead to do what is possible to encourage that growth happen in a sensible way that enhances the quality of life and economic opportunity for all residents.

    In our role as a convener and connector, Ten at the Top has been among the entities encouraging dialogue, collaboration, clear data and strategic planning around issues that impact growth in the Upstate.

    When we started our efforts a decade ago, one of the goals was to enable a culture where collaboration and working across stakeholder and jurisdictional boundaries would become a critical part of the fabric of the Upstate. While there are always new silos to overcome, for the most part I think those who are engaged in community and economic development in the Upstate will all agree that we are better at thinking regionally and collaboratively today than we were a decade ago.

    However, the ultimate goal is not to just think regionally or collaboratively, it is to act regionally and collaboratively when it is appropriate and will enhance our collective success.

    Upstate Mobility Alliance

    One exciting opportunity in that area is the new Upstate Mobility Alliance, which has been formed after two years of discussions, studies and planning by transportation providers, community organizations and local businesses across the region.

    The role of the Mobility Alliance is to help continue to grow collaboration among the more than two dozen entities in the region that play a role in the movement of people and goods across the Upstate so that we are maximizing the limited resources within our region and leveraging the capabilities of all who are part of our mobility spectrum.

    As a sign of what is possible when we work together and our corporate partners invest in our region, the Michelin Corporate Foundation has committed $825,000 to enhance mobility in the Upstate through a grant awarded to the Upstate Mobility Alliance (through Ten at the Top) and Greenlink to help support increased access to public transportation.

    It is our hope and expectation that this will be just the first of many announcements in the near future of how we can leverage public-private partnerships to reduce mobility as a barrier to economic success for all individuals and businesses in the Upstate.

    The last decade has seemingly flashed before us in a blink of an eye and we can expect the next decade to again speed by fast and furiously.

    However, by continuing to work together across borders and boundaries, we will not be caught unprepared and will instead leverage and continue to grow the relationships and partnerships that have been forged over the last decade to ensure that the Upstate remains a special place for generations to come.

    Mauldin’s Christmas Kick-off

    Mauldin’s Christmas Kick-off

    by Kayla Meadows

    The city of Mauldin and the Mauldin Cultural Center are celebrating the Christmas season with a holiday market and the annual Christmas parade.

    The Holiday Market will be held at the Mauldin Cultural Center (101 East Butler Road, Mauldin, SC) on December 6th from 5:00–8:00 p.m. And did I mention that it was a free event? The Mauldin Holiday Market will bring together quality local vendors offering up holiday gifts, arts, crafts, and edible goods. There will also be food trucks, from Smoke and Sweets and Mobile Meltdown.

    On December 7, the Mauldin Cultural Center will be having a Christmas parade. The parade will start at 2:00 p.m., and this is also a free event. You can go and celebrate the best time of the year with the entire community. The parade will begin at Mauldin High School and it will end at the Cultural Center. There will be floats from churches, businesses, scout troops, organizations, and many more. There will also be music by the Mauldin High School Marching Band. They will be leading the one and only Santa down the parade route. And this whole event is presented by Mauldin Chamber of Commerce.

    About the Mauldin Cultural Center

    Here are some more interesting facts about Mauldin Cultural Center. The Mauldin Cultural Center was built to develop a cultural system that brings joy to the Mauldin community and allows the community to have a place to meet other citizens in their community. And it gives all citizens and visitors the chance to experience and be a part of an artistic and cultural activities, and allows families and friends to bond together and get out rather than just sitting in front of a TV or playing video games. The Mauldin Cultural Center is for everyone to come and have a good time together.

    In 2003, the City of Mauldin began the process of purchasing the 14 acre property as the first step toward creating a City Center. The City built the Mauldin Sports Center as the first phase. After they made the first step toward creating a City Center and making Mauldin Sports Center, they later turned the old school building into what is now the Mauldin Cultural Center. Mauldin Cultural Center also offers a wide variety of educational programming in all areas of the arts and culture and offers a variety of other cultural and arts events.

    At the Mauldin Cultural Center, everyone gets to create and host their own programming if they would like, from festivals and concerts to theater and comedy. The Mauldin Cultural Council is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 2004.

    You can learn more about the programs and events at the Mauldin Cultural Center here.

    The UpstateVibe365 Calendar Is Back!

    The UpstateVibe365 Calendar Is Back!

    You may have noticed that we haven’t had a functioning calendar for a while now (and thus haven’t sent out a newsletter, which is calendar-driven), but we’re back in business now! We were the victim of a DDoS attack, and if you don’t know what that is, be very grateful. It was not a fun thing to learn about as it was happening.

    The calendar looks different now because it IS different—since the old calendar was the thing that allowed the attack in, we had to get rid of it altogether and find a new one, but we think you’ll like this one too. It’s a great visual representation of all kinds of events, but you can also choose to view it as a calendar, where the images will pop up as you mouse over the events, or a list or daily view if you prefer.

    We are having to catch up with all of the great events happening and get them plugged in, but you can help by submitting your own events. Whether it’s a festival in your town or a fine arts event or an informational lecture or class, we want to let people know what’s going on in communities all over the Upstate.

    We’ll be working hard here, too, to get as many events posted as possible so that we’ll have a full calendar of Upstate events to help you find things to do every day of the year, from Abbeville to Union and everywhere in between.