Running the route of a foot race through Anniston’s downtown early Saturday, Froydis Collins saw the way Noble Street looked.
With a light rain falling from an overcast sky and the temperature hovering around 50 degrees, “it was pretty bleak,” Collins said, “especially this morning.”
The race — Main Street Anniston’s first St. Patrick’s Day-themed “Shamrockin’ 5K” — was a fundraiser aimed at changing Noble Street’s look for the better. That’s a cause Collins and her son could get behind.
“We wanted to support Main Street” and the City Council behind it, the 73-year-old Collins said after the race. “Any effort they make, we try and support.”
The weather might have discouraged some of the runners originally signed up for the race, organizers said. But the effort still brought in more than $5,000 and drew nearly 60 people to Zinn Park, many of them wearing green under raincoats and ponchos.
Main Street Anniston intends to use the money raised to make Noble Street a little greener, too. Board member Christa Morphis said the money would pay for flower baskets that will hang from light poles downtown.
Some of the money will also be used on window decorations for vacant buildings along Noble Street, she said.
“We want to make them not look so drab, but full of opportunity,” she said of those buildings.
Karla and Leo Eden see that opportunity. The couple wants to open a bakery and coffee shop in Anniston’s downtown. They’ve got a building picked out, and a name: “Taste of Eden.”
The couple went to the race with two of their children for the same reason Collins and her son were downtown. Too many believe the area abandoned, with nothing to offer visitors.
“We want to be a part of ... livening it back up,” Karla Eden said.
“And if you’re going to promote something, you’ve got to make it attractive,” her husband said of Main Street Anniston’s plans.
The group partnered with two Anniston High School programs — one in the culinary arts, the other, welding — to supply a brunch and the shamrock and rainbow-shaped medals top runners earned. Contestants who were old enough also got green beer, courtesy of the nearby Cheaha Brewing Company.
For many, the race was a chance to test physical fitness. Braving the rain to run meant keeping a commitment to better health that Nathan Payne made more than a year ago.
He’s lost 61 pounds since, Payne, who pastors a church downtown, said after the race. It was the first he’d ever run.
“Rain or shine, we were going to be here,” he said, standing near his wife and son.
He said the race route took runners along Noble Street twice — which was fitting, he thought.
“It put it in your mind that this is what we’re trying to help,” Payne said.