My daughter and I were not the only folks disappointed that the new "Splashville" water play fountains in front of City Hall were turned off last Friday starting at 3 p.m.
The pastor for the event that preempted Splashville prayed for all of us "in Jesus’ name" from the stage between the new fountains, Asheville City Hall and the Buncombe County Courthouse.
Is it going to continue to be public policy to allow a church to take over City-County Plaza and to cancel park services (the Splashville fountain play area) for a church event?
My daughter and I had walked from our house in Montford as we often do. My daughter rides in a stroller. She's two-and-a-half. She can't read the signs that promoted the church event last Friday in City-County Plaza. She had to see the fountain was actually turned off to believe it, which gave me a front-row view of just how narrowly focused on self-promotion this church event was. I left frustrated that City-County Plaza could be taken over by a single church and its amplified minister. As I looked for an alternative for my daughter, I was further disappointed that the church event was amplified (using the park's electricity) so that it reached into Pack Square as well. I don't remember Shindig on the Green or any other City-County Plaza event ever (over)reaching so far.
For the record, I go to church on Sundays. I was never offended by the Greek Festival in City-County Plaza, even though it's sponsored by the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church. I was never offended by Bluegrass, Old Time or Gospel music in City-County Plaza. I can't imagine being offended by an event sponsored by the North Carolina Council of Churches, if such an event were to be held.
I am offended by a church taking over our downtown community space to blatantly promote itself and grow its membership [with no interest in] the public good.
That said, this church event wasn't as aggressive as the bused-in, cross-bearing, "voice amplified" preachers at Belle Chere who were damning strangers to hell (including my daughter) on the street corners and in Pritchard Park. But that's damning with faint praise, and little consolation to a two-and-a-half-year-old in a bathing suit and the other families who came to City-County Plaza to enjoy the new fountain play area last Friday evening.
— Pepi Acebo