Parade lights up for Art on the Atlanta BeltLine

Photo by Monica Jamison

The city of Atlanta is often overlooked when large U.S. cities are mentioned, but it definitely has its fair share of events and places to go to for new, unique experiences.

For instance, fall is right around the corner, and the first annual Old Fourth Ward Fall Festival, held at the BeltLine last weekend, was a good way to celebrate saying goodbye to this summer’s excessive humidity and sunburns.

This season’s festival was meant to serve as an extension of the annual Atlanta BeltLine Lantern Parade, which started in the year 2010.

Food and fun were expected by the Old Fourth Ward Fall Festival attendees. As far as food options, the festival had several  food trucks, some of which can be found around Tech’s campus during the week, such as Mac the Cheese and Viet Nomie’s. Additionally, they sold beverages and had some traditional festival food such as corn dogs and funnel cakes, which brought a familiar comforting element to the new event.

The live entertainment especially brought a familiar southern note to this festival. For instance, one of the performing bands, The Whiskey Gentry, was an upbeat Bluegrass group from Nashville, Tenn., who made sure that the energy of the afternoon remained lively. The band’s enthusiastic performance kept the attendees on their feet and away from their seats, dancing to the spirited tunes of the performance.

The event was held over the course of two days, Friday, Sept. 11, and Saturday, Sept. 12.  The lantern workshops began on Friday, and people came to mingle and enjoy the festival atmosphere.

Saturday started slowly with yoga and culminated with the Lantern Parade. The optional yet exciting Lantern Parade Viewing Party, which was a fundraising effort, was also held that night. The proceeds from the fundraiser went to the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership and Art on the BeltLine, two organizations who were working together to revamp and beautify the land and surroundings of the Atlanta BeltLine.

The Old Fourth Ward Fall Festival is a perfect example of what  The Beltline’s creators intended for it to stand for.

The idea of the BeltLine was originally introduced by a Tech graduate, Ryan Gravel, and has grown over the years to be a project for transportation, expansion of green space, promotion of sustainable growth and a location to showcase local art. As of now, the entire project is not complete, but if work continues at the current rate, the BeltLine will be completed by 2030.

According to current plans, once the BeltLine is completed, it will connect 45 neighborhoods in Atlanta and have transit options to make it more accessible to the general public.

Atlanta’s BeltLine is meant to be a way for people to explore different parts of the city and to unite the region as a whole — all while being a unique attraction for the city and a lively venue for events such as the BeltLine Lantern Parade or the Old Fourth Ward Fall Festival.

Additionally, because this event was incorporated with the Lantern Parade, there were lantern-making workshops where interested attendees could make and decorate lanterns for the next night’s parade.

Participants decorated their lanterns with anything from faces to Gallifreyan, as they celebrated the start of cooler weather and the season of layering.

As for the Lantern Parade on Saturday, thousands of Atlanta residents showed up with decorated lanterns and plenty of excitement to light up the night and brighten people’s weekends. The lanterns had a wide variety of sizes and styles which made the parade an exciting, diverse and colorful event.

Despite this being the first year of the Old Fourth Ward Fall Festival, this event has the potential to become a major annual event, much like Taste of Atlanta. It could also become one of the many fall festivals Atlanta residents have come to know and love.