Living Here Guide

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April in Columbia is crazy-busy, with more fun scheduled than any one person can possibly enjoy. For Heidi Johnson, director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Columbia, one can’t-miss is the Nickelodeon theatre’s independent film festival, Indie Grits. On top of that: “It’s prime garden time. There are all kinds of 5K runs. It’s a nice time to be exercising outside before it’s too brutally hot.”

Sure, the football team is pretty good – but nothing compares with the sport of politics here, said Dick Harpootlian, former chairman of the S.C. Democratic Party. “Especially statewide politics. Can anyone top Mark Sanford’s press conference after he got caught not on the Appalachian Trail?”

Adds Wesley Donehue, a Republican strategist: “Blame it on the PPP – presidential preference primary. National politicians infiltrate our state every four years, dumping millions of dollars on political operatives before leaving town. With little to do and the taste of blood on their lips, operatives started treating local and state campaigns like Washington, D.C.”

The Art Bar is an eclectic gathering place in the Vista, said Briana Evans, a student at Benedict College. “I enjoy pedestrian-friendly areas, like Five Points and the Vista.” The art museum on Main Street is another favorite spot, she said.

Dawn Hinshaw

On hidden outdoor gems ...

L.L. (Chick) Gaddy, naturalist, on his favorite hike:

Gaddy isn’t one to stick on marked trails. He likes to park at the canoe landing on Cedar Creek Road at Congaree National Park, walk up Cedar Creek to the west, break off to the south (using John Cely’s hand drawn map or a compass) and try to find Lost Lake. Even if you don’t find the lake, if you keep heading south, you’ll run into the Kingsnake Trail. Heading east, you can take follow that trail back to the Cedar Creek Road parking area. It takes him 3-4 hours, but he stops frequently to examine plants.

Bill Stangler, Congaree Riverkeeper, on his favorite paddle:

“I have a favorite river spot in the confluence of the Broad and Saluda. There is a ledge that creates some nice cascades and a beautiful colony of spider lilies. I have seen lots of wildlife here, including eagles, osprey, otters and alligators. You would never imagine you were in the heart of a city out here, yet just around the next bend you can see the Columbia skyline and the top of the State House. You can get there by paddling down the Broad from the diversion dam put in, or by paddling the Saluda from the zoo area down.”