Saturday, September 19, 2009

Trail of Tears Dried Up in Florence?

Nothing talks like money, and apparently Tennessee has more of it than the Shoals area. This marked the first year for two competing trails in the annual observance of the mass removal of Cherokee Indians to Oklahoma Territory.

According to news reports from Huntsville, approximately 250 bikers left Bridgeport in what was termed a drizzling rain. By the time the group left Madison at 11:30 a.m., only a handful more had joined the riders as they entered Highway 72. Those reaching Florence then had the choice of remaining at McFarland Park or traveling on to Waterloo, the traditional end of the trail's land trek.

By some accounts, there were as many vendors at McFarland as there were bikers. As with the Independence Day Spirit of Freedom celebration, it's impossible to determine the exact revenue Florence and the surrounding area gain from this annual event. From speaking with law enforcement officers over the years, we know the influx of bikers requires extra police patrols that cost the city in overtime pay. Many stores on the route close due to blockaded entrances and the dearth of shoppers willing to brave the traffic.

Would the Shoals be better off without an active part in the Trail next year? Our answer is a resounding yes. Despite its admirable roots, the Trail of Tears bike ride has become for many just another excuse to party. Surely, those who suffered the deprivations of the original trail deserve a more fitting remembrance.

What's up with this: Alabama Attorney General Troy King has announced he will pursue murder charges against Gabe Watson. Watson has already been convicted in the jurisdiction where his crime took place--Australia. Perhaps TK the AG has never heard of double jeopardy.