By Atlanta BeltLine Blog contributor Melanie Lasoff Levs, reported in March 2013.
If you have visited the Eastside Trail of the Atlanta BeltLine even once, you have noticed its diversity – the scenery, the bikes and dogs (and other animals on and off leashes), and, most obviously, the people. Every day, people of all ages, races and abilities walk, stroll, jog and run along the trail. As different as these sightseers appear on the outside, each also has a unique story about what brought them to the Atlanta BeltLine.
Two of those distinct “types” of Atlanta BeltLine enthusiasts were among the crowds on a sunny, mild Saturday afternoon in early March.
Like many families taking in the Eastside Trail, Paul and Ashley Halloran were pushing two daughters, ages 6 and 4, in a double jogging stroller and carrying their third, age 1. The brood was checking out the BeltLine for the first time with their friends, Kirkwood residents Jen and Nick Avery, pushing their two-year-old daughter in her stroller and encouraging their four-year-old’s skipping. Their large group began their journey at the Irwin Street and stopped to watch the skaters at the Old Fourth Ward Skate Park.
“When it’s warm, we come once a weekend,” said Jen.
“This is great,” Paul Halloran remarked as all five children stared fascinated by the jumps and spins of the skaters. They’d be back, he said. “It’s very kid-friendly and there are a lot of people here.”
Jen Avery agreed. “It’s a great thing to have in the city,” she said.
Beyond the skate park was single guy Gary Fout, 48, of Castleberry Hill, with wheels of his own. Wearing khaki shorts, a shoulder bag and ear buds, Fout was rollerblading for the second time along the trail. He said he usually blades at Piedmont Park, however, “rollerblades need a cleaner surface and [fewer] trees,” he explained. “This is a wider, cleaner surface – I like the fresh, smooth pavement here.”
The mild temperature and overcast sky brought out a lot more people than were here during Fout’s first visit, he said. “It’s a little crowded,” he said, adding that he finds himself weaving through large groups that include strollers, dogs and bikes. Still, he said he appreciates the Atlanta BeltLine’s varied purposes – and populations.
“We’ve all got to get along,” Fout said, readjusting his ear buds before gliding past a group of walkers. Like the miscellaneous people and stories along the trail, the BeltLine fits in with the city, he added. “It’s kind of like it has already been here for years.”