Photo courtesy of Sullivan Branding
Among those pictured celebrating the first Trolley Night on Sept. 29th, 2000, are Joey Williams (Bennett Stained Glass), Patsy Whitehead (The Charcoal Store), Brenda Durden (Durden Gallery), Martin Wilford (Red Deluxe), Jodie Vance ("Downtowner" maga...
All aboard! This weekend marks the 15th anniversary of the South Main Trolley Night. Many Memphians recognize this last-Friday-of-the-month event as a night filled with fun, music, art, and trolley rides. It all started on September 29th, 2000, when a single vintage trolley rode up and down South Main free-of-charge for passengers attending the first (what was then called) South Main Art Trolley Tour.
The brainchild of Ephraim Urevbu, owner of Art Village Gallery and founding member of the South Main Association board of directors, the event began as a way to sustain the momentum of the successful South Main Art Festival held in May 2000 and help promote the dozens of artists and galleries in what had been proclaimed by the city as the South Main Arts District. The event has since become simply known as Trolley Night.
On Friday, September 25, 2015, the 180th consecutive Trolley Night will kick off with a “trolley” parade at 6 p.m., though in lieu of the traditional trolleys, two festive trolley buses will parade down South Main Street from Beale to G.E. Patterson. Kay Woodard, who was the hostess for the very first Trolley Night, will act as grand marshal. At the parade’s end at the South Main Association Member Area, there will be live music on the street, as well as cake, party hats, and champagne.
Festivities will continue throughout the night and will include, of course, open-door art tours of the street’s galleries. Entertainment will include Songwriter Night at South Main Sounds and music performed on the street by Bending Time at Guiding Point Financial, Sing for Glenn at Love Pop Soda Shop, Shufflegrit at Cafe Pontotoc, Larry Randolph at Obsidian PR, The Po Boys at Green Beetle, and Tim Plunk at Double J.
South Main businesses will open their doors to welcome attendees as well. Eric Evans, president of Sachë on South Main, has participated in Trolley Night for more than five years. “I think everybody in the South Main neighborhood thoroughly enjoys it and looks forward to it,” he says. “It’s always a really cool night — you see everybody walking down the street in a cool area, and all these business have their doors open and are very welcoming. A lot of the businesses down here offer local goods and local fares, and there’s live music, there are street performers, and there’s all sorts of wonderful food offered. To be able to continue bringing people down here and letting them experience all the rich history and the culture that this area offers is amazing. It’s a night where people can learn about it and experience it first-hand.”