By Vivian Shipe
KNOXVILLE, TN — There was a scene in an old baseball movie once where one of the characters said, “If you build it, they will come.” This was the thought pattern back in January when three visionaries got together to plan for the reopening of
the city post Covid-19. They believed by the end of summer, right before schools began again, that vaccinated people would be ready to put on some party clothes and shake a tail feather. They were correct in their assumption.
Hubert Smith, local radio personality, Lee Willis, local performer, and John Rutherford, one of Knoxville’s top DJ’s began planning the event of the summer in the dead of winter. Indeed, before the doors were scheduled to open on a hot Saturday night in July, people were already lined up in front of the ballroom doors at the magnificent Crown Plaza in downtown Knoxville.
State and local leaders, even the city Mayor graced the ballroom and dance floor with their presence. Everywhere you looked, there was laughing, smiles, and a general joy all over the room.
The event was a sellout; drawing people from all walks of life into four magical hours of
a delicious buffet created by the chef at Crown Plaza, music by Jazz Artist Jeanine Fuller, who tore the room up by opening with her rendition of Etta James song “At
Last.” Alex Stokes, nationally known comedian kept the crowd laughing and John Rutherford kept the dance floor full. In addition, local jewelers and other businesses donated expensive door prizes to be given away during the evening.
Vaccinated and ready to enjoy each others company, the evening was a success. not only for I AM The Voice of the Voiceless and C.O.N.N.E.C.T Ministries, the organizations for whom the benefit was held, but also for those in the community who had been missing each others presence for far too long.
Indeed, they built it and the people came.
By Vivian Shipe