When I downloaded my photos from Tuesday night’s “Strollstice,” I examined them very carefully. I half expected to see the late Robert Loest in some of them. Maybe standing on the skirts of the crowd or something like that.
I didn’t. But, let me assure you, his spirit definitely was present that rainy, cold evening. That’s why many of us were there. Robert and his friend Charles Finney spearheaded the first Strollstice — just a downtown candlelight walk on the winter solstice, really — last year. (Click here to read about it.) Then Robert suddenly passed away shortly thereafter, leaving his friends and downtown acquaintances stunned and saddened.
There was no doubt in most of our minds that we would be there again this year, gathering at the big bell in Market Square with Robert large in our thoughts. The newspaper said there were 45 people. When I counted, the group was a little larger. And I know one more was present; we just couldn’t see him.
The procession ended back up on Market Square. It lasted less than an hour. Then everyone scattered to either watch the Tour de Lights decorated bicycle parade or grab something to eat or drink. I met some folks and went to the Tennessee Theatre to hear the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra’s Christmas concert, which was fantastic.
I think Robert would have been proud of all the things going on downtown and all the people there — even in the cold and the rain. But I think he would have liked Strollstice best of all.