The Great Race rolled into town Tuesday and the community did a nice job making the drivers feel welcome.
But that's only half the story. The race is the latest example of how Craig's civic leaders actively fostering a sense of community by cultivating opportunities to bring people together.
"I love having these community functions," Lions Club member Mary Shearer said as she flipped pancakes on a giant charcoal-fired griddle. "It draws people out of their homes and you have all these people, young and old, interacting."
Indeed, there were many smiles and "hellos" exchanged downtown as people milled about the vintage cars.
Rick Gottschall said he was drawn to the Great Race pit stop because he's a car buff. But he also appreciated the chance to spend a beautiful morning with his fellow residents.
"I think it's both," he said.
Cathy Vanatta, director of the Craig Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber had to pay $1,000 to become an official pit stop on the race course, plus provide food and drinks for the drivers. They went a step further and decided to feed whomever wanted a free pancake breakfast, she said. But it wouldn't have been possible without the generous help of sponsors, donors and volunteers.
Victory Motors, Cook Chevrolet, Craig Ford and Mercury and Craig Electric Machine and Motor Inc., were the chief sponsors. The Rotary Club and the two Lions Clubs did the cooking for the event. The museum and CNCC pitched in to help. The hospital sponsored its annual Bike to Work day to encourage people to come downtown. Coca-Cola donated beverages.
The Girl Scouts helped with the cleanup, and the city and the county provided tables and equipment.
Members of the Downtown Business Association greeted drivers and directed traffic. The DBA also split the cost of a banner with the chamber.
Kudos to the chamber and other leaders for recognizing that there is tremendous value in bringing the community together -- as much or more than the opportunity to put Craig on the map.
Maybe it's sappy to be proud of seeing people enjoying themselves or getting a kick out of watching a couple of kids wolf down their pancakes. But we'll take sappy over cynical any day of the week.