There comes a time at the end of every Cherry Blossom Festival when I develop a mild case of pink eye.
I am ready to put my pink neckties in the closet until next year. By the final day, I have had my fill of pink pancakes. I have seen enough pink houses, blouses, dogs, cars, Port-a-potties and wigs for the next 355 days.
Yes, the annual pink decree for the third week of March will soon be relaxed. The gavel will fall on the Mary Kay convention.
The three dozen acceptable shades of pink on the color wheel will be retired from the dress code for another 11 months. We will no longer feel compelled to wear a hot pink shirt to church or a pair of pants the shade of Pepto-Bismol to the office. (Not that I own either of these articles of clothing.)
But, as much as my retinas beg me to move on, part of me wants to keep the glow going on an eternal pink flame.
I have seen how much the festival means to this community. And its not just about the $19 million economic impact.
The blossoms bring us together like no other event. For a week and a half, we stop beating up on ourselves. We call a cease-fire long enough to enjoy some music in the park or stand in line for some free ice cream.
We share the same beauty. It belongs to all of us. There are no territorial rights. We dont have to pass a consolidation bill in the House and Senate to unify our cause.
Parades. Balloon glows. Street parties. Bed races. Golf tournaments. Car shows. Fireworks. We walk around with plenty of bounce in our steps.
Ive said many times if Macon could find a way to take the spirit of the festival and bottle it, maybe we could spread it across the rest of the year.
Of course, it would be impossible to sustain the same level of energy. No community could do that. New Orleans cannot celebrate Mardi Gras year-round. They do not host a Rose Bowl parade every week in Pasadena.
Still, extending the deadline of the spirit of the Pinkest Party on Earth would go a long way toward improving our self-esteem. We dont have to settle for being one-hit wonders every spring.
But how do we get there from here? I have an idea. For starters, we can all sign a pledge. In celebration of the cherry blossoms, let us call it our very own pinkie promise.
A few months ago, a group of five young community leaders launched a campaign called I Love Macon.
It doesnt cost anything to join. There are no membership dues. Enrollment is open to everyone.
The only requirement is to sign a pledge that accentuates the positives of living here. I would say the Cherry Blossom Festival certainly qualifies as a candidate worthy of those virtues.
The pledge is available online at www.ilovemacon.org. You can sign it there, as well as sing a few praises and post a few comments. It will take 5 minutes of your time.
After youve finished signing the pledge (didnt hurt a bit, did it?) you can continue to follow the campaign on Facebook and Twitter. If you dont hang out in cyberspace, you can pick up an I Love Macon postcard at various downtown businesses or by writing the campaign at P.O. Box 4161, Macon, GA, 31208.
As of Friday afternoon, about 2,000 folks had signed the petition. The goal is to reach 10,000 by the end of the year.
Remember how the popular First Fridays became such a rousing success? Soon, everybody was wondering why every Friday couldnt be that way. Well, now they are.
That is what we are after here. Support it and build on it. A pinkie promise.
So maybe we should not be so hasty in packing away all of the pink inventory. We should emulate that pink line that runs down the middle of Cherry Street.
They dont erase it at the end of every festival. Its always there. It has staying power.
Reach Gris at 744-4275 or firstname.lastname@example.org.