How long have I lived in Greensboro, you ask?
Long enough, I say, to remember when white people talked shit about GHOE in public.
Now, of course, the city has come to heartily embrace one of Greensboro’s core events: the Greatest Homecoming on Earth, in all its complexity and luster. And it should be thus. NC A&T State University is the most significant institution in the city, part of its DNA. We’ve got Aggies everywhere around here: in local government, in business and philanthropy, in social work, in athletics, in activism. And let’s not forget that GHOE creates a significant economic impact, affecting the bottom line of so many businesses, small and large, and, eventually, city tax coffers.
But I remember when Greensboro City Council fielded complaints from citizens about GHOE fairly regularly and especially as it came near. They vented about the parade and traffic downtown, the overarching nature of the tailgate scene, the noise — accusations tainted with a sentiment that’s best left to a bygone era.
I know we reported on an effort to curtail curbside vendors when I was editor of Yes Weekly, perhaps 15 years ago. The archive of those articles have been scrubbed from the website; contemporary commentary from the Rhino Times’ John Hammer has similarly disappeared from the internet. So I’m forced to rely on my own memory, scarred and pockmarked as it is.
But I remember Councilmember T. Dianne Bellamy-Small, then representing District 1, was the lone voice against city regulation for GHOE vendors and tailgaters, though I recall she eventually brought everybody around.
Just like everybody has come around now!
Now: The mayor of Greensboro rides in the GHOE parade — it wasn’t always that way. Fans, vendors and alumni will take over the entirety of the neighborhood surrounding A&T without fear of violating some hastily construed ordinance. Throughout this weekend, GHOE’s tendrils will reach into just about every neighborhood in Greensboro — because Aggies are everywhere.
And now, finally bereft of haters — in public! — GHOE holds its place in the pantheon of the Greensboro canon of events. There is nothing quite like GHOE, which means there is nothing quite like Greensboro. To understand their connection is to love them both.
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