Marry Durham anniversary crowd smaller this year, but loving

Mar. 23, 2013 @ 07:08 PM

The grassroots event Marry Durham celebrated its second anniversary on Rigsbee Avenue on Saturday. It was a small gathering compared to the wedding, but those who attended still love Durham heartily.

Marry Durham began in 2011 as a celebration of the Bull City, with donations going to support local nonprofits. Some of those who attended wore wedding dresses and tuxedos as they gathered in the Motorco Music Hall parking lot to offer vows to Durham.

That was then.

There were no wedding dresses in Saturday’s parade, although there was a man sporting a black velvet blazer. The parking lot had cars in it, but Motorco was again open, as was Fullsteam Brewery across the street, other bars and several food trucks.

Small groups of Durhamites gathered to enjoy food and beverages on a cloudy afternoon. It was pretty quiet until the Marry Durham Parade came down the block, led by the ever-enthusiastic Bulltown Strutters band of merry musicians. As they passed, other people followed, either part of the parade or simply falling in place for the street party.

On the side, tables were set up to share information about Sustain-A-Bull, the Durham People’s Alliance, Coalition to Unchain Dogs, Keep Durham Beautiful and other groups. Coalition to Unchain Dogs was a recipient of donations at the first Marry Durham and continues to receive donations from the now annual event.

“It’s been the least busy year,” said coalition director Lori Hensley. Maybe due to the weather, she said, which called for rain, though it held off and the sun came out late afternoon.

Hensley said she loves the idea of Marry Durham and of getting people involved locally. Coalition to Unchain Dogs drove a ban on tethering dogs and they build fences for dogs. Community support was remarkable, she said.

What Hensley loves most about Durham is its diversity.

“That’s absolutely my favorite part,” she said.

Jeff Hughes, who attended Marry Durham in a Durham T-shirt featuring the silhouette of the water tower, came last year but missed the first one. His son, Rowan Hughes, was at the front of the parade Saturday. Post-parade, he was on the lookout for ice cream. Hughes said he loves everything about Durham.

“I will never live anywhere else,” he said.

Kevin Young asked what’s not to like about Durham. He said it has easy access, is close, and listed the “cool things like downtown, the farmers’ market and two universities. There’s no time you are out in Durham and not run into a friend.”

Cameron Rosen, 14, said, “Marry Durham is like a little community where we can come together and love Durham. My mom says it’s like mini-New York, but it’s not. New York is the city that never sleeps, and we sleep.”

Cameron said she likes Durham boys.

“There’s just something about boys based in Durham that makes my heart beat faster,” she said. “I like how I always see people I know. Every time we go to Whole Foods, we’re there an hour and a half because my mom’s talking to them.”