Wild ones: OK, these ideas are out there

Columbia City Ballet dancer Katie Smoak, local actress Giulia Dalbec-Matthews and Flutter the Clown, of Flutter and Friends, at a railroad crossing on Assembly Street.
Columbia City Ballet dancer Katie Smoak, local actress Giulia Dalbec-Matthews and Flutter the Clown, of Flutter and Friends, at a railroad crossing on Assembly Street.

OK. Columbia is a conservative place. We realize that. Where else do people get really, really excited about college baseball, tort reform and Fred Thompson?

But a couple of our folks actually threw some curveballs — and put ’em right over the plate.

  Tie arts to the train tracks and otherwise embrace them

We love this idea, and so did just about everyone we talked to.

We’ll let Gerrit Jobsis, an environmentalist with American Rivers who came up with it, lay it out: “We should embrace the (trains). Let’s make waiting for trains the signature art event for Columbia. I’m thinking performances — mimes, jugglers, even ballet troops — at major train crossings, timed to coincide with the train schedules.

“We’ll hear cheers and applause when the crossing arms go down. And the thespians could be performing a series of short (serial) skits — a scene a day — along the roadside. Commuters would intentionally plan their trips to be stopped by the trains so they can catch the next episode.”

In all seriousness, if mimes aren’t available, displaying art at the crossings by USC students or local artists and sculptors could be doable. Perhaps a video screen could be installed at the tracks, timed to come on with a short feature by a local filmmaker or student when the train rolls by.

And we liked this comment from Bill Shanahan, owner of the Columbia Blowfish baseball team. It’s Zen: “The trains are one of my fondest memories of Columbia. (Being late to an appointment) due to the trains is one of the greatest excuses ever. Trains and the tracks are a part of the fabric of the community.”

  Cool everyone off with misters at select streetcorners

This from Tayloe Harding, dean of the USC Department of Music: “Dedicate certain places where tents or awnings of mist are available in the heavily public neighborhoods like the Vista, Main Street, Five Points.”

Nothing like a light, cool mist to take the edge off a blistering day in the Capital City. And ... we do have three rivers, a lake and a city water company, so finding a source shouldn’t be a problem.

But, responds Harry Miley of Miley and Associates consultants: “Women may not like what they do to their hair.”

We suggest these strategic locations: the Three Rivers Greenway, city parks, the Five Points Fountain and the lobby of the State House (to chill out the hot air).

  Light up the buildings to bulk up the skyline

It may not be the most “green” of all ideas, but lighting the buildings might a great way to bolster a skyline that still doesn’t have a signature building. Creative lasers, outlining buildings with lights or spotlighting buildings would add a little brilliance.

From Jeff Prioreschi, developer of Capital Places and Vsion condos: “This would give the skyline a bigger presence and would give a unique WOW factor to Columbia.”

  Add ‘Duck’ tours along the rivers

Ducks are amphibious troop carriers used in World War II to take Marines to the fight. Surplus ducks have been used across the country to carry tourists through the streets and into the water.

Seems they would be perfect to load up visitors at the Columbia Regional Convention Center or Riverbanks Zoo and roll them straight into the Congaree, the Saluda or the Broad River.

From Prioreschi: “This would be awesome ... for tourists and locals.” He suggests checking out bostonducktours.com.

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