The list of residents' concerns couldn't dissolve in the mist of good cheer that enveloped part of the city Saturday morning. It's not that simple. Annistonians remain worried about the city's myriad economic ailments. They're also still waiting for a divided City Council to eschew bickering and instead adopt a message of a common civic goal.
In that sense, the Woodstock 5K is only a race.
But let's leave no doubt about its importance to Anniston. This race is solidified as a beacon of positive vibes for a city that today is often marked more by stumbles than successes. Anniston needs stories of accomplishment, tales that enable The Model City to inch closer to again living up to its weathered, oft-ridiculed moniker.
Anniston needs more Woodstock-like victories. It must welcome more opportunities for people — residents and visitors — to speak well of the city and praise it, not belittle it.
Believing this premise requires one to understand the scene just after dawn Saturday around Anniston High School. Believing the Woodstock is only an athletic endeavor for those who enjoy the Roman sport of running would be a mistake.
Instead, the fast-growing Woodstock again showed the promise of what Anniston can be: A city of diverse people, black and white, rich and poor, young and old, visitors and home-towners, mingling to become an exotic human gumbo: Everyone together, sweaty and out of breath, helping one to bring out the best in the other. It was humanity personified.
Perhaps the Woodstock's crowning achievement was its welcoming of the Anniston High community — an obvious, and smart, decision, since the race is headquartered in the school's parking lot. Too often, too many in Anniston see AHS as a school for only the city's black neighborhoods that today provide nearly all of its students.
The Woodstock did its part to bury that viewpoint. All along the 3.1-mile course were snapshots of Anniston High's intertwining with the city. Uniformed football players cheered on the struggling runners. The AHS band played the national anthem. AHS students and faculty served as volunteers to promote not merely a race, but an attitude about the city.
The optimist will admit that small-town Anniston is lucky; the Woodstock is hardly the city's only worthwhile event. Others, such as the Noble Street Festival, the Knox Concert Series, the Sunny King Classic and Music at McClellan, are components of this wide-ranging effort to increase positive light on a city due for a sustaining of confidence and hope.
Still, kudos to those who make the Woodstock go. Saturday said something about Anniston. And it was all good, from start to finish.