You Grew Up In Columbia When…
Your Childhood Memories involve dirty creeks, country cats, and your grandparents’ hog named Eugene.
At the risk of sounding 100% country, these tiny, special little memories of the outdoors lay gloriously in a South Carolinian’s memories. You just can’t beat the warm, hot sun beating down on your shoulder blades as you skip, prance, and hop through a chilled creek in late August. Not to mention – there are about 567 different animals to play with, just take your pick of a stray (seriously would not recommend because, you know, rabies and all.) These outdoor adventures were a right of passage and still are to this day.
It will take 15-20 minutes to get anywhere. And I mean anywhere.
As a kid, everyone has fond car ride memories (maybe). Growing up in Columbia, you are bound to know every interstate, crosswalk, and shortcut within the city by the age of 12. If you wanted to play outside it was in the neighborhood. There was really no ‘walking to school’ or a ‘quick walk to the park’ . Our suburbs have space – and without wheels or a year-round bus pass, you weren’t going to go very far.
Sprinkler System Sass
Back in the day when our parents no longer hand the patience or know how to entertain us, they would hook up a sprinkler hose to the main hose connected to the house, turn on the spicket – and badda bing, badda boom– entertainment for hours. Jumping through a device that shoot out water in perfect, parallel lines was the summer activity,
The first time you visit the Zoo will be on a field trip.
Taking a family trip to the zoo is pretty much a societal norm. But if you grow up in Columbia, South Carolina you’ll take a trip to the zoo about 6-7 times before you hit the teenage years. It’s not as if our teachers lacked creativity, it’s just Riverbanks Zoo is one of the top 7 kid friendly landmarks in our city. I can almost taste the victory from the scavenger hunts and the reptile pop quiz.
Our Highways Will Shake Your Brain
Our city just recently decided to repave the highways and make commutes smoother for drivers. But before they took on this much-needed project, the bumps on I-26 would threaten to rattle your teeth and cause a mini-concussion. Good luck falling asleep on the car ride in.
The heat and playtime
There are a few things about the South that only true southerners really know. And that is the heavy, wet, heat that keeps life as we know it stagnant for months. Growing up in Columbia however, you knew what times were good for play and what times you should stay inside – purely for your own safety. Any water, soda, or juice you consumed in the last hour would be sweated out within 5 minutes. Never walk outside between the hours of 3:00-5:30 p.m. It would be your funeral.
St. Patty’s Day Festival Will Be One You’ll Never Remember
So Columbia is pretty well known around the nation for our St. Patty’s day celebration. We pull in a bunch of country, jazz, rock, swing-like bands and decriminalize that ‘open container in public’ law and all of a sudden it’s a party. We dye the downtown fountain forest green and all the bars open at 10:30 A.M. There’s a reason Wacka Flocka makes yearly appearances to this shindig. It’s a good time, all the time -just make sure to buy tickets before waiting at the entrance.
You’ve probably dodged a bullet in 5-points
5-points is a must-go-to destination for everyone 21 years of age and older. It’s peppered with a slew of small-town bars that provide the best beer selection, sticky flooring, and rowdy behavior. More often than not, you are bound to see some kind of alcohol induced altercation – and if you’re REALLY unlucky, someone might pull out a firearm and shoot aimlessly to get their point across clearer. Just like any city, there are dangers around the drinking scenes. So have fun, get messy and weird – but be aware of what happens around you. You may just have to throw out a matrix move to save your own life.
Gotta have the summer scene Riverwalk
There’s a beautiful park located downtown that pulls patrons in from all over the state. That would be the city Riverwalk. It’s picturesque greenery paired with the calming sound of flowing river water is perfect on a slow Sunday afternoon.
There’s this little kids dream/nightmare performance based pizza restaurant called Chuck-E-Cheese. If you never been to a chuck-e-cheese you aren’t from Columbia. This was the first place a kid could eat as much cheese, fat, and bread their little heart desires. And if you’ve never seen animatronic puppets perform live on stage this would definitely be the place for the experience.
When you see someone try and pee on the the world’s largest fire hydrant
You know you grew up in Columbia when you see a fire hydrant that is big as a three story building, one of downtowns most iconic sculptures, and not blink twice. You aren’t even remotely taken aback when you witness someone trying to shower down yellow rain while marking territory on a Saturday night.
You’re either a Gamecock or Clemson Tiger
The rivalry between The Carolina Gamecocks and Clemson Tigers go as deep and certain as family blood. You are one or the other, and the claim must be made. The rivalry between both universities is ancient and deep. Football is not a game, expect blood to be drawn.
There is a special phenomenon that happens at dusk until early evening. If you grew up in the time where it was socially acceptable to play outside past 8 p.m as a child and safe to explore with friends and siblings – you knew about the fireflies. Tiny bright orbs, that blinked through the night would go on for hours in the yards. As children, you would collect them in jars or try to catch them in the palm of your hand just because you could.
4 Hour Floats on the River only to lose your raft/float/kayak to the Congaree
You know you grew up in Columbia when you’ve floated down the river and lost an entire raft/kayak/canoe/etc. There’s a favorite pastime us Columbia people share and that is spending time on the Congaree river. All ages, sizes, shapes, and colors of people take time to enjoy the flow of the water and skip across river rocks to watch the sunset. A lot of us saddle up with a cooler full of brews and lazily float downstream for the afternoon.
Bar-B-Q’s, Fish Fry’s, and Cook Out’s
You know you grew up in Columbia when half your childhood is filled with outdoor dinners, cold lemonade, and family barking orders to ‘set the table’. It is family time that we all truly cherish – the traditions and practices that make Columbia what it is has always been our most important attribute.
If you grew up in Columbia: our city is loud, rambunctious, and unique. We don’t change or alter ourselves for anyone and are in constant growth. Even for us who have moved on and away – we wouldn’t want to call home any other place.