Lighting of the Trees 2016 . . . ahhhhh.

November 18, 2016


Fairhope Tree Lighting - Leslie Anne Tarabella

Let me just go ahead and give you the full report; no one tried to push anyone at this year’s tree lighting in downtown Fairhope.


Last year, I caused an inadvertent stir, when I wrote a blog post about an incident I had with an out-of-town visitor who attended our city’s Lighting of the Trees and decided she didn’t like the unusually heavy crowd, and loudly told everyone to move out of her way. The gentleman in front of us calmly said, “Ma’am, we’re all trying to get to the same place,” but his soothing efforts failed because the woman then screamed, “Push! Just Push!” Certainly a dangerous thing to yell in a tight crowd.


Fairhope Tree Lighting - Leslie Anne Tarabella - blogOnce a teacher, always a teacher, and once a mom, always a mom so, weary of her rude and bully-like behavior, I looked at her and said, “We don’t push in Fairhope.” As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I thought, “Holy guacamole, what have I done?” But guess what? She didn’t say another word and stopped her huffing and puffing.


Fairhope Tree Lighting - Leslie Anne Tarabella - blog

The point of writing about this incident on my blog was to question two things. 1. Why would anyone act so rude and irresponsible in a large crowd of people who were otherwise having a nice time, and 2. How had our small-town event suddenly turned into a massive flower-stomping free-for-all with cars parked on stranger’s front lawns?


Fairhope Tree Lighting - Leslie Anne Tarabella - blog

I hit, “publish” on my computer, and thought that was that, until a reporter with wrote a story about my post which focused mainly on the parts about city growth. His story landed on the front page of the Press-Register the day before Thanksgiving and all hell broke loose as people near and far chimed in, without ever having read a word of my original story. Those who only got their news from Facebook stirred themselves into a frenzy, calling both me and the city “snobby” and worse! (For the record, I’m not allowed in the snob-club due to all the Beagle fur on my backside. It’s so tacky).


One blogger I’ve never even met, who lives in Daphne said such horrible things about me, and it was clear she hadn’t read a word of what I’d written, so I looked her up on social media, and her profile said, “Y’all, I love Jesus . . .” Seriously? Jesus wanted everyone to be nice and not push, and that didn’t make him a snob.

Fairhope Tree Lighting - Leslie Anne Tarabella - blog

For the record, I’ve lived in many places, including 17 years in Fairhope, Alabama, and can say without a doubt, these are the least haughty people I’ve ever met. Families here are like every other city in America with most hovering on both sides of middle class, and many who struggled during the recession. And yes, we also have those who live in dire poverty. Our local churches take turns housing families who have lost their homes and need help so they can stay together. Sure, some of our residents are financially well off, but I’d say 99% of them worked ferociously to get where they are, and there’s nothing wrong with that in my book. To be jealous of another’s hard-earned success and stereotype them because they’ve achieved the American dream is crazy. It’s also good to note that the wealthiest in Fairhope are usually the most generous and down-to-earth folks you’d ever want to meet, because they remember their simple roots.

Fairhope Tree Lighting - Leslie Anne Tarabella - blog

For all the controversy my story caused, and the huge response it received, taking the heat from the public was entirely worth it. Our city continued the conversation of future plans, and new officials were elected to implement growth management strategies. I used the situation to land a sweet writing opportunity with, and as for being a new writer, having thousands of people talking about my story wasn’t so bad. But as huge as it was, my most read story still has been the one I wrote about how much I miss Gayfers, where even during their Midnight Madness sales, no one ever thought about pushing.


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