Sunday, September 06, 2009

Just Another Old-Fashioned Holiday Street Festival in the City

There were live bands, food tents, streets closed off so that people could walk around unhindered by traffic, and every restaurant's patio seating was full of people--an urban delight at its finest.

Except in this case, the city was...Plano.

I originally went to the Shops at Legacy's "Labor Day at Legacy" event to see a friend play in one of the bands, but I ended up staying for quite some time after the people I was with had left. The festival was at least partiallly intended to show off the newest section of the area's North End (across Legacy Dr. from the original section), but it turned into a great place for people to hang out on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. There was just enough shade under the large office building to the west of the stage to accommodate band-watchers who didn't want to spend too much time in the sun, while the new fountain (inspired by the one at the Bellagio in Las Vegas) served as both a sunny vista and a place to literally get one's feet wet:

(I can't begin to tell you how many times I tried to get a shot of the fountain in all its choreographed splashing glory, but, as Maxwell Smart might say, I missed it by that much.) By the end of the afternoon, the shade had enveloped the entire area, and the rim of the fountain was nearly full, as it had become the go-to seating area for catching the last band.

I've spent a decent amount of time in the southern half of Legacy (home of Half Shells, Taco Diner and the like), but I'll admit that I'd never ventured across the street until today. From the looks and smells of things, there are definitely some restaurants that warrant my attention later, and I'll need to make a much longer visit to Legacy Books than my ten-minutes-till-close overview today. The highly-touted two-and-a-half-level independent bookstore--there's a mezzanine tucked in between the first and second floors--looks very nice and seems to be chock-full of interesting stuff. (I do have to say that, especially after all the time I've spent in this blog lamenting the rapidly-shrinking CD sections of the Big Two bookstores, it was somewhat jarring to see a store of similar size without a music section at all. But bibliophiles will have a field day in there, and it warrants further attention.)

As I've said on many previous occasions, I'm an unabashed fan of New Urbanism, and, if I had a lot more money (and a Wenger module for practicing), I'd seriously consider living in a place like this. Certain city dwellers may thumb their noses at the suburbs for their car-centeredness and generic, boxy buildings and cookie-cutter McMansions, but to me, something like Legacy combines the best elements of the city (mixed retail and residential, green space, walkability) with the best elements of the suburbs (safety, convenience, proximity to good schools); it's a win-win situation.

Hopefully, today's festivities weren't a one-off meant only to launch the new section, but rather the start of an annual tradition. I'd certainly come back, friend in the band or not. Yes, there really is culture to be found (way) north of LBJ Freeway, and it was on display in droves today.

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