• 54°

Friends again take city to new heights

Anyone who believes that one voice cannot make a difference in the world has never met the Friends of Ironton.

The grassroots civic group comprised of a diverse group of volunteers from nearly all walks of life, occupations and interests made magic happen again with the second-annual Rally on the River. Hundreds of people fired up their motorcycles and rolled into Ironton last weekend, bringing their money and interest in the community with them. Thousands more came out to watch and participate.

Earlier this summer, organizers boldly laid down the gauntlet when they said "we hope to attract 10,000 people." Many naysayers said, "Yeah, right, that will never happen."

From all accounts it did happen.

In less than two years of existence the Friends have accomplished much, with each successive endeavor becoming a bigger hit than the one before. The group has become the Mark McGwire of civic groups, smacking a home run nearly every time at bat. (And without the steroids.)

The Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament earlier this year went great, but the latest version of the rally may have surpassed that. So far, we have heard little to no complaints about the event.

Law enforcement expressed concerns over the traffic but said the weekend crime was no worse than any other. Several business owners have said they saw an increase in traffic. Even if the tangible effects are hard to measure, it is clear that for one weekend Ironton was the place to be for many people.

That type of momentum - also seen during the Macker event - is what the city must look to capture for the other 50 weekends out of the year by finding niches like this that the city can do well. From the Memorial Day Parade to football season to the annual Festival of the Hills event, Ironton and Lawrence County has many things going for it that can be attractive to tourists.

The Friends of Ironton have shown a little marketing, hardwork and enthusiasm can go a long way.

Sure, some people will say that events like Gus Macker or the Rally on the River didn't help them or their business. But these pessimists should really ask themselves what did they do to help themselves.

"Friends" are great but it still requires a little work on both sides of the equation.