I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: it ain’t festival time until the mercury’s pushed past 90. With exactly one week to go until Spoleto’s opening ceremony — when the balloons on the roof of the Old Exchange building plummet to the ground, festival officials spout their own brand of hot air, and Mayor Riley utters the incantation that starts it all — things are looking iffy for that prognostication. Tomorrow may come close: forecasts are calling for a high of 89 on Saturday and temps that flirt with the underside of 90 again on Wednesday. Not that I’m complaining…

Last night Spoleto recognized the winners of its annual Window Display Contest, in which downtown merchants are encouraged to fancify their storefronts for the coming festival season with Spoleto posters, ribbon, glitter paint, and delicately crafted subliminal messages to BUY! BUY! BUY! Full disclosure here: I was one of seven judges selected by the festival last week to be driven about town in a stretch limo, feted with champagne and toothsome edibles, and generally made to feel special while viewing the various dressed-up windows. I’m pleased to report that Elizabeth Stuart Design at 314 King paid us handsomely for earned, hands-down, their first-place judges’ award with a Romeo and Juliet-referencing design that had all the judges oohing and aahing — well, the sober ones, anyway.

The highlight of the afternoon, though, came about halfway through the trip, in the middle expanses of lower King Street, when the packed limo suddenly and without warning went kaput. While my fellow judges and a pair of Spoleto employees ambled about the street near the limousine, sipped bubbly, and chatted with passers-by, I took the opportunity to ask our driver, Angie what exactly happened: what exactly happened.

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