York parade-goers' Christmas spirit not dampened by rain, cold temps
There are 25 downtown drives in the running for the nation's best in the America's Main Streets contest. York County residents don't have to go far to find one of them.
Congress Street in York made the list. It's the only nominee from South Carolina. The process started with 303 streets nationwide.
Online voting opened today and runs through May 27. The winning street gets $25,000.
Independent We Stand, an organization promoting small business, is in its third year running the contest, which aims to promote the country's main streets and small businesses. Streets don't have to be named Main Street, but they have to be central to their communities.
"This group is a terrific example of the unique experiences and economic benefits shopping local can have on a community," said We Stand co-founder Bill Brunelle.
Congress Street stands out as part of the fifth largest historic district in the state, with homes dating back to 1824, a history that includes civil rights marches and Christmas parades and its present housing of numerous small businesses.
"Downtown York is the heart and soul of our community," said City of York Mayor Eddie Lee.
The Greater York Chamber of Commerce sponsored Congress Street's entry in the America's Main Streets program.
Mary Catherine Ward, executive director with the chamber, said the $25,000 would come to her group if Congress Street were to win but a downtown business committee made up of York merchants would decide how it's used.
"They would be making the decisions, because it's their downtown," Ward said.
The money could be used for painting or other improvements downtown. It could be donated to the city for a downtown project. Ward said she is "thrilled" to be the only South Carolina street on the list, though she hopes others in the state will help out a little.
"We've got a good campaign to get the word out," Ward said. "We're thrilled to be the only street from South Carolina, but we hope people throughout South Carolina will vote for us."