On a somber Wednesday, I headed to Republic for their event honoring Gary “Gee” Alameda, our local favorite hot dog street vendor, friend, peacemaker, bodyguard, and hero. I was last at Republic on the fateful night of his untimely passing and his infectious presence was very much felt. Republic offered some of Gee’s favorite libations for $5, and all of the proceeds went directly to his family who were in attendance to celebrate his life. On a more personal note, I am not usually one for late-night eats, but I ordered a bratwurst and mustard many, many years ago from Gee, and every subsequent visit to his stand, he remembered my order (and everyone else’s order) forever. I tried to make a point of seeing him, even just to say hello, most every weekend and ways always greeted with a bear hug.
That’s why it was so nice that the outpouring of support for Gee carried over throughout the weekend. On Thursday night I headed to the Cocktail Club where they were hosting a benefit for him as well. We even got some Gee-style hot dogs that were paired with the eclectic and soulful sounds of David Higgins. Gee will certainly be missed.
Moving off the peninsula on Saturday, I headed to the sixth-annual Mac Off. I’ve attended the event in the past and was even asked to guest judge on one occasion. But since then, the Mac Off has ballooned into a crazy, unorganized, chaotic mess. After parking, we were instructed to stand in one of four lines. If you didn’t bring enough cash, there was a ATM. One single ATM that ran out of currency quickly. Once inside, we were invited to stand in another line to get drink and food tickets. Waiting in line was kind of the theme of the day. At each stand, we waited about 45 minutes to taste a gentle dollop of cheese and noodles and then couldn’t find a trash receptacle in sight. As the day soldiered on, organizers were still issuing tickets for admission, though some vendors were completely out of product. Usually, I can go with the flow, but this was well beyond my threshold. It just turned into pure comedy. We cut our losses and ventured over to Home Team on Sullivan’s to get some mac and cheese, the true winner of the day.
On Sunday, I hit up the rescheduled Thanks, Joe event out at Brittlebank Park, honoring our mayor, Joseph P. Riley Jr., of the past 40 years. I got there a little early, though they were totally all set up and ready to go. Mayor Joe addressed the crowd in approachable garb — a tucked-in polo and khakis — a different look than his usual classic uniform of a suit and regimental necktie. The family-friendly event featured the Mount Zion AME Choir, School of the Arts Jazz Band, and Charleston Police Pipes and Drums. Later in the afternoon, the main stage had comedy from The Have Nots! and some super choreography from the folks at Dance Lab.
After Brittlebank, attendees were invited to head over to the mayor’s namesake baseball stadium for more music and entertainment. Kicking things off was the Music Battery Drumline followed by the Burke High School Marching Band. Next up was Edwin McCain, who is just seemingly always in Charleston. Then we got a treat to hear the Mother Emanuel AME Gospel Choir that was followed up by the uber-popular Seth G. and his pop-violin tunes. The show capped off with a very vibrant display of fireworks. It was a great end to celebratory week.