Despite the negativity going on downtown Saturday at the Ku Klux Klan rally, a group of Memphians want people to attend an event shedding a positive light on the area the same day.
"The Heart of Memphis is all about unity, and that's what we're experiencing," says organizer Kevin Kern, "That's such a beautiful thing to see in this city and we're showing the world that we are one Memphis."
Heart of Memphis blossomed from a group sitting around a table with an idea to a large event that's circulated around social media to bring out an expected 1,000 or more people to attend the seven-hour event at Tiger Lane.
And they will not let wet weather get in their way: Rain or shine, they are continuing with their plans.
MORE: City gears up for Heart of Memphis
MORE: Heart of Memphis festival counters Klan rally
Saturday's outdoor festival at Tiger Lane will move inside to the Pipkin Building next to the Tiger Lane Green. Either way, it remains free and open to the public.
From 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., organizers say there will be something for everyone: Food vendors, music, a classic car show and inflatables from the Grizzlies for kids. Panel discussions and events will also be going on in the Creative Arts building. Mayor Wharton's Egg Roll will take place on the Tiger Lane Green at 12:30.
It's all being done with no budget; Heart of Memphis had no money to arrange this event. Organizers say everyone has been volunteering services.
"'I can volunteer if it's welcoming guests, if it's helping set up the stage'… so it's been really, truly grassroots. Everyone's just rolled up their sleeves and got to work," says organizer Jonathan Lyons.
The event is a response and deterrent to the Klan rally on Saturday, but organizers say Memphians unite like they are through Heart of Memphis all the time.
"Memphis is together every day," says Kern, "Unfortunately people don't showcase that. We come together during basketball season, when we celebrate the Tigers and the Grizzlies, we come together in Memphis in May, we come together in August when we welcome Elvis fans from across the nation."
Lyons says the KKK will not overshadow the good and positives of Memphis, adding, "It's an out of town group bringing attention to the city. This brings attention to everything that we are known for: Our food, our music, our kind people, one of the most generous cities, most forgiving."
There are no plans to make Heart of Memphis an annual event, for now; but organizers say with the support they are receiving, who knows what could happen.
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