Posts tagged ‘Charleston’

October 23, 2012

Southern Charm

by ClearanceCharms

The change of season brings a heaping of beauty to the south.  Here are Clearance Charms, we are fortunate enough to reside and hold offices in Mount Pleasant’s Old Village, a magical movie-set neighborhood that just brims with southern charm and begs to be strolled in the moonlight.    I can’t quite express how peaceful this neighborhood is (mind you not on a Saturday in the summer when tourists flood the city like palmetto bugs) and how fortunate we all feel to live here.

Picture this… quiet meandering streets lined with oaks dripping in Spanish moss.  Hydrangea, lavender and everything else amazingly southern blooming, picket fences and porch swings.  The quintessential rocking chair, perfectly poised for front-porch sittin’.  Gas lamps burning a welcoming beacon at every walkway. An abandoned brick stairwell from a 1700s rebel officer’s home.  The sun setting in a brilliant glow over Charleston harbor, illuminating the Holy City’s steeples as it disappears.  Pure Magic.

While there are a million delightful restaurants, sites and adventures to be seen in downtown Charleston, the peaceful magic of day’s past is found in the Old Village.

Pitt Street Bridge (& my puppy’s rump)

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If you ever find yourself in town, wander on over to the “Old Bridge” at Pitt Street.  Aim for sunrise or sunset and you’ll find yourself in another world.  The bridge was original site of a trolley bridge connecting Mount Pleasant to Sullivan’s Island from 1898 to 1927, there was a plank bridge built on Hogs Head barrels across the cove during the Revolutionary War and the Civil War.  Today it is a gorgeous reminder of who came before us.  From this waterfront vista, you can see historic Fort Sumter, downtown Charleston, the Cooper River Bridge and Sullivan’s Island through the marsh and bay.  It is hands down my favorite place in all of Charleston and well worth a romantic stroll.  Wander back down Pitt Street and you’ll pass one historical home after another, many once belonging to officers, politicians and pirates. Yes ma’am, I said pirates!

1.  Hot Toddies

Get your mind out of the gutter; I mean the drinks not little trollops.  The first place we lived in Charleston was in this itsy little tucked back neighborhood and our very first neighborhood friend introduced me to a new concept.  Upon our first meeting, we were instantly invited to come have a hot-toddie on the porch that very evening.  It was an unusually cold first winter, she was about eighty years old and the drinks were oh-so-warming.  To this day, I do believe she made the best first impression.  If you haven’t indulged, google it this winter. Yum.

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2.  The true meaning of y’all, y’all

Now here’s the thing, my mama is from the south.  Y’all has always been part of my vocabulary.  But here, it isn’t just a cute little hyphenate.  Nope, it’s a way of life.  Brace yourself New Englanders, in the South – everyone talks to everyone.  I know, right!?  I literally can’t walk down the street without stopping to have a friendly chat with some lovely person, neighbor or stranger alike.  Being a native Californian, that suits me just fine and I rather enjoy knowing silly little details about folks I’ve never seen before.  (See that fella, he’s on his way to the dock to have himself a po’boy and watch the dolphin roll in). I’m convinced there is no comparison to the hospitality here.  Everywhere you look, it’s a friendly face with genuine interest in how you are.  And while the pace of the line at Starbucks might be maddeningly slow, it is ridiculously refreshing to live with such a welcoming group of people.  So for that, I thank you southerners

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Hey y’all” = come on in for supper/let’s sit and chat for 5 hours/wana go down to the creek (yes, we have a creek) and grab some shrimp and beers?/it’s time for brunch/it’s time for bed kids
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“All y’all” = A 4+ group of people is invited over for hot toddies.

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“Bye y’all!” = I’ll see you tomorrow, same place same time.  No, you don’t need to call first.  Yes, the front door will be unlocked and a pie will be on the table – help yourself and bring me a slice out on the porch, will ya?

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3. Architecture should be adorable

My current residence is a lovely little marshy hideaway, but I cannot wait to build a house.  My extreme desire to build our next residence is largely thanks to the exquisite home design found in Charleston (namely the Old Village, Sullivan’s Island and Isle of Palms).  Take a dash of old world sea-captain stateliness, mix in some plantation grandeur, a little Key-West flair and throw on some adorable shutters and you have the most adorable homes ever built.  They. are. exquisite. Perfectly adorable and unassuming but marvelous all at once. Every detail has been paid attention.  The front porch (major factor) is curved for the best view and angle for waving at passersby.  The gas lamps frame the walkways and doors.  Oh god, the doors.  BEAUTIFUL.  Big bay windows from every room.  Balconies and hidden gardens in abundance.  Paved driveways, adorable little hedges.  Ridiculous kitchens. It’s all designed for understated opulence but more importantly, for relaxed southern living. These folks really know what they want from their daily lives; comfort, kitchens filled with loved ones and yummy food, views for days and yards that welcome the neighbors over for toddies (see number one) and oyster roasts. Relaxed, detailed, seaside.  That’s me in a nutshell.  And now I know how to express it in architecture. brava.

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4.  On that note, gas lamps are a necessity

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Just as much as I’ve fallen for the amazing construction techniques here, gas lamps will forever be a part of my life.  There is just something so old-world and romantic about a flickering light to illuminate your path.  Maybe I was meant to live during the Civil War. Wait, scratch that, I can’t do without my excel and Starbucks.

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Twinkling gas lamps have this exceptional way of adding a touch of the mysterious to an otherwise ordinary evening. If you are so lucky, stroll down a gas lamp lit street one night and feel the magic.  Watch the lights flicker, take a deep breath of salty air and pretend you’re a pirate for just a brief moment.

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4. The Civil War isn’t just in history books

I’ve had the privilege in living in not only one but two major historical war towns. A city incredibly chalk-full of historical battle sites, Boston (and the outlying cities) is of course home to the “shot heard round the world” – the unordered shot on Lexington Green that began the American Revolution.  And of course on June 17, 1775 the first major fight between British and American troops occurs at Boston in the Battle of Bunker Hill. The city oozes with revolutionary history, it’s truly fascinating. No, seriously.

Travel 1000 miles south and right in my Mount Pleasant backyard, on April 12, 1861, General P.G.T. Beauregard, in command of the Confederate forces around Charleston Harbor, opened fire on the Union garrison holding Fort Sumter.  This first fire aimed at Fort Sumter took the Civil War past the theoretical, making it a very real conflict and thus igniting our fair country’s Civil War.

Captain George S. James has the distinction of firing that monumental first shot.  The spark had been lit on the war and there was no turning back from that point on.  I had the phenomenal honor of being a MP resident for the 150th anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter last year.  What a crazy history lesson that was.  The cannon fire began at 4:30 am, just as it had in 1861 and didn’t cease until the Union surrender of the fort 34 hours later, I kid you not.  Cannon fire literally shook our house.  The south is alive and well, my friends.
Admittedly, I’ve always found the histories of monarchical countries more interesting to study/read tawdry novels about.  But after having lived in a place where the past is so present, one can’t help but want to know more.  The passion of my southern neighbors (confederate loving or not) made me more than a little ashamed that I know more about Henry VIII than the development of our United States.  Note to self: learn about your own country’s history asap.

A History Lesson, or two: 

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5. Beer & Puppies should be casual

So again, this little bit of enlightenment comes from my specific (awesome) neighborhood.  Never have I ever seen a neighborhood with such a relaxed approach to puppy containment and sidewalk drinkin’.  Pooches & parents stroll through the neighborhood to the park without a leash in sight and make friends as they go.  It’s really such a simple concept – yet so rare.  Traffic is generally minimal in our quiet subdivision and there are no mean doggies to worry about.  What’s even better? Usually the proud owner is toting a bevvie (scotch seems to be the libation of choice) and are generally happy as a clam at high tide.  It makes for wonderful morning walks and evening gab-fests.

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6. Eating like a southerner every day = blaaa

Everyone knows that a Carolina girl can sure fry some chicken. But dear Lord, these people won’t eat greens (and I don’t mean collard) to save their lives.  Call me picky, but I have found it exceedingly difficult to find healthy meals in this fair state.  Not  only are salads totally off the menu, it’s to the opposite end of the spectrum. I’m talking buttery grits, creamed anything and there’s not a pasta in sight that isn’t covered in cheese.  It’s a bit disturbing really.

Thankfully, Charleston happens to be a fairly active city so at least people get their blood flowing after clogging their arteries.  What I’ve learned from this culinary experience, comfort food isn’t for me.  My metabolism just can’t keep up with all those biscuits.  Bless your heart if you can!

PS: This photo is from the most amazing restaurant ever – check out Hall’s Chophouse on downtown King Street for some seriously good eats.  One meal you won’t be sorry you indulged in!

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7.  Football is intense

I think everyone knows that the South takes football seriously. But I could never have imagine just how serious.  I’m talking babies in done-up bedazzled SC strollers, team flags flying from every vehicle/window/fence/wall, local holidays just so that everyone can travel to Columbia to tailgate for the big game, full-back Tiger tattoos, completely color coordinated wardrobes (I’m talking every.single.garment.), and my special favorite… the Garage Party.

The ultimate in college football excitement, the Garage Party is a common occurrence in even the poshest neighborhoods.  Now, I never got a definitive answer as to why watching football is best in one’s garage.  But it seems to have something to do with the excessive drinking and spilling of beer.  Southerners, can I get confirmation on this?  Walk down any street on game night and you’ll hear men, women and children alike screaming at  big screen TVs in the garage.  “Geeeeettt hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiimmmmmmmmmmm! Get em boy!!!” is my middle aged female neighbor’s favorite thing to scream. I heart her. Excessive drinking and shouting aside, it’s nice to feel a part of something. I’ve never been one to cheer for a team whose college I didn’t attend or get super into professional sports, but there really is something energizing about rallying around a hometown team. One thing Southerners do especially well is come together and it seems football is no exception.  They’re quick to support their brothers, a lesson we can all do well to learn from.

Disclaimer to Charlestonians: I will never ever pick a side so let’s just pretend I’m wearing whatever colors you want me to be, k?

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8. Mornings are magic, so wake up already

I’ll just put it out there, I’m not a morning person.  Once I’m up, I’m totally fine. It’s the actual getting out of bed that kills me.  It’s so dang cozzzyyy in bed. Why would anyone ever leave it?  Thankfully, I have this really whiny puppy who insists on waking up and going for a walk before the sun comes up which is actually perfect timing to get me to work on time.  I can’t tell you how many sunrises I’ve seen in the past few years, but they’ve been enough to make me not want to miss another.  Here’s the key; the world is still at sunrise.  It’s truly a special time of day before all the fray and commotion of a busy workplace like a bead vault!  No one is out (except maybe my neighbor Sallie who is awesome to share a sunrise with in case you’re ever in town at 6am), the birds are just starting to sing, and the world is covered in a silvery fine mist that makes every leaf seem enchanted.  Try it, would ya?  Set your alarm for 15 minutes before sunrise tomorrow (that is, unless you have children or puppies who perform this function for you), brew a cup of bold roast and just wander in the pre-dawn splendor.  This is an especially good time for quiet reflection but don’t ruin the peace with list making like I’m prone to do, it totally kills the mood.  Just soak it in. You never know how that morning magic will change your day, or your life.

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9. Support Local

I’ve always been inclined to root for the underdog.  In sports, elections, boat races, you name it.  So it was no big leap for me to want to support small local businesses as opposed to big box stores.  Charleston takes the concept of supporting local to a whole other level. They are fiercely loyal to local teams, boutiques, farmers, grocers, artists, performers, any one who claims southern ground as home.  I think it all comes back to the sense of community that these southern folk were raised with.  Everyone takes care of everybody else and the cycle perpetuates.  It’s wonderful.  Restaurants are owned and operated by local chefs, menus consist of locally grown produce and meats, festivals celebrate local artists and performers, and patrons flock to stores owned by born-and-bred South Carolinians.  The concept that I’ve always been eager to embrace has been expanded upon ten fold.  As a result, we consumers receive better service, better products and fresher foods and locals have something to be proud of.

Not to mention, the relationships that are fostered from supporting local artisans are a major bonus. It’s a special kind of awesome when Tony at the breakfast place has your order ready for you when you arrive and Joe at the meat market calls you when the best cuts of filet come in. Personalization is fabulous.  Living with that kind of hospitality year round makes me realize even more that we need to always provide that same level of service to our loyal NewDreamz clients.  I hope we serve you all as well as my southern friends would.  I think we are fortunate to live in a time when customer appreciation and high levels of service are coming back into fashion and I hope dearly that we can help move that movement forward.  The support we’ve received as a small business from loyal customers and locals alike has been wonderful. Thank you, truly.

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10. Take time

My years in Charleston have been spent in a bustling and growing business, so needless to say I had very little sleep and even less time to spend on myself.  My hair got unruly, my nails went unpolished and my exercise dropped off the map.  When every minute is scheduled out, even the smallest task can seem to suck your day away.  Twenty minutes to get coffee and a bagel is just not going to work for me.  Before Charleston, my adult life was spent in Boston where things move at the speed of light, just the way I like it.  However (and this is a big however), southern living is trying desperately hard to teach me to slow down.  I’m happy to report that I’m making progress, albeit in small steps.

But here’s the thing, the people in line at Starbucks that want to chat – it turns out that they’re actually really nice AND they love my bracelets! The deli manager who likes to talk about craft beers and gun ranges before he slices your turkey – he’s pretty cool to share a burger and watch a game with.  The shop girl who won’t stop babbling about how awesome my shoes are (yes, they are awesome, thank you for noticing) – she lived down the street from me in Boston.  All the people and all the slow situations that initially made my skin crawl from sheer inefficiency, are actually pretty fantastic. Let’s be honest, I’m never going to have hours to just wile away at the market.  But I’m learning to be more patient with daily adventures.  Because really, if I’m rushing through my day, what’s the point?  To the same end, slowing my pace has helped me carve out some time for myself.  I still don’t have time for that coveted activity that is actual store shopping, but I’ve made room in the day for making dinner at home and hitting the gym.  And who could forget all those early morning puppy prances? It’s not perfect balance, but it’s a start.  And I have the southern way of living to thank for making me realize that I need it.  It turns out, there is something to be said for going slow enough to actually enjoy yourself.

So thanks, Charleston.  It’s with heaps of appreciation that I’ll be sharing your Southern Hospitality with everyone I know.  And maybe, just maybe, I’ll make my next visitors some biscuits and grits.

xoxo, L

August 16, 2011

Stand Out in a Crowd

by ClearanceCharms

Disclaimer:  what I’m about to say is going to sound completely egocentric.  But I assure you, it comes from an entirely self-conscious place, not from one of vanity.

Since moving to Charleston from Boston a few years ago, I’ve found people staring at me with much more frequency than one might expect.  I know, I know, you’ve already forgotten my disclaimer.  I swear it’s true – walk into a restaurant and BAM!  All eyes on me.  It’s downright disarming. 

At first I thought they were going starry-eyed over my incredibly handsome fella (no exaggeration necessary).  But then I started paying closer attention and realized this phenomenon of the eyes occurred just as often when I was alone.  I find myself to be a fairly average looking person, of average height and average skin tone.  I just couldn’t figure out what it was they found so intriguing.  I started panicking; is my hair a mess?  Is my skirt tucked into my undies?  Is there dog slobber all over my pants?  Once I added a more strenuous appearance inspection to my daily routine and realized it was still happening, I began to think it must be something about my overall appearance. 

Then it hit me.  I don’t dress Charleston. 

I still dress like I would to work in Boston, or to dinner in San Francisco.  That has to be it, right?  So I took to polling my co-workers the dreaded question, do I stand out here?   To add to my frustration, the answer was mixed.  As I sat debating how over-the-top my favorite Jimmy Choos are, one of the girls asked the ultimate question…

“Why do you want to blend in?”

What an obvious place to start that I had completely overlooked.  As vain as this might seem, I’ve spent my years perfecting a very personalized wardrobe.  I’ve scoured and saved for the shoes only a bold woman might dare to walk in.  I spend my days urging you to be dazzling in your choice of accessories – and I mean it.  So why on earth was I letting a bunch of strangers make me second guess choices that define not only my style, but my personality? 

I am (generally) a confident, successful, outgoing person.  How on earth did I get sucked into an utterly teenage-like vortex of self doubt?  I don’t know how I got there, but I’ll tell you one thing; never again.  I’ll say it loud and proud –

I LOVE ACCESSORIES!

I love my shoes. I love my bags. 

I love hair fascinators. 

I love Crystal Charms!

I love 4 bangles at once!

I’m more than a little ashamed that I was trying to be something I’m not, that I was trying to blend in.  The best dressers are the most inventive ones.  The people who can meticulously craft a look that is unique to them are the ones we pin up to our inspiration boards – not the women who play it safe.  I was so tickled to work for Clearance Charms because that’s what charms are all about, isn’t it?  It’s the sheer personalized nature of our bracelets that make them amazing (well, that and the sparkle).  Individuality is as paramount to a beautiful bracelet design as it is to fashionable dressing.

I swear to you hear and now, with beads as my witness, that I will always follow my own fashion path.  And I hope you will too.

xoxo

 

June 21, 2011

Meet Your Staff: Jen

by ClearanceCharms

We pride ourselves on knowing our customers well and want you to know us too!  You trust us with not only your charms, but your hopes, wishes and fears as well – that’s not something we take lightly! 

In this series of posts, you’ll get to meet your happy Clearance Charms staff!  These women and men are the friendly voices on the other end of the line when you have a question, they’re the answer to your email at 10pm on a Saturday, they’re the ones who lovingly and precisely pack and ship your order. 

 Just for you, our wonderful customers, here’s a sneak peak at just who Your Staff is!  

Here at Clearance Charms, Jen has an array of tasks that she completes on a daily basis. One of her most important duties includes filling and processing orders for our wonderful customers.  She receives the orders; hand selects the beads, and packages with tender care so your coveted charms arrive without a glitch.  Jen is a great support system for the company and works within many different areas of Clearance Charms.   Perhaps her greatest asset to our buzzing office is her constant enthusiasm.  She is the eternal optimist and is sure to bring a smile to even the most tedious project.  Jen is also a very talented bracelet designer and photographer as you can see from this beautiful creation she has made.  She is a very happy and warm person with a unique style that shows through in this gorgeous bracelet.  Simply magnificent!      

 Jen says;

I was born and raised a West Virginia girl. After majoring in nutrition at WVU, I eagerly set out on those “country roads” and made my way to the sweet sunny south.  I’ve lived here in Charleston for about 6 years and I’ve loved every minute of it! I have always been interested in design of some nature, be it painting, decorating, fashion, or jewelry.  When I am not at work surrounded by beautiful beads and artistic people, most of my time is spent at the beach – either frolicking with my four-legged friends, going for an evening run or dancing like a dolphin through the waves.  Much of my inspiration comes from the ocean and its influence on the fluidity of existence.  So this begins to define the evolution of my bracelet design.

Her gorgeous creation is made of a multitude of flowing beads and charms using shades of blue, brown, white, champagne, and loads of sparkle. It is a decadent piece that is sure to impress!  Do you love it!?  Do you just simply have to have it!? Call us at Clearance Charms (1-800-409-1772) or email info@clearancecharms.com to purchase this fantastic bracelet at 20% off – for a limited time only!

 

Jen’s vibrant bracelet comes from a stunning collection of personally inspiring images.  You can always view her current Inspiration Board on our Inspiration tab.

Credit: 1-3. All photo’s were taken by Jen  4. Her personally designed bracelet from Clearance Charms.

June 7, 2011

Introducing: Meet Your Staff

by ClearanceCharms

We pride ourselves on knowing our customers well and want you to know us too!  You trust us with not only your charms, but your hopes, wishes and fears as well – that’s not something we take lightly! 

In this series of posts, you’ll get to meet your happy Clearance Charms staff!  These women and men are the friendly voices on the other end of the line when you have a question, they’re the answer to your email at 10pm on a Saturday, they’re the ones who lovingly and precisely pack and ship your order. 

 Just for you, our wonderful customers, here’s a sneak peak at just who Your Staff is!  

Lacy is a Production Assistant here at Clearance Charms. She has a multitude of different tasks that she handles on a daily basis, including filling and processing orders.  If you have ever ordered from us before, chances are good that Lacy either handpicked the beads you bought or processed the order quickly and efficiently so that your new charms arrived safely at your doorstep!  Lacy is also training to be a Customer Service Representative.  Soon she will let her skills and sweet southern accent sparkle while taking customer calls, phone orders, returns & exchanges, and so much more!  Lacy is also a very talented bracelet designer.  She creates incredible combinations using an array of the fantastic beads that Clearance Charms has to offer.  
      

 Lacy says;
      

I’m a Lowcountry native, born and raised.  Meaning I’ve lived in Coastal South Carolina forever.  I grew up in a small town but decided to make Charleston my permanent home after receiving my undergraduate degree from The College of Charleston.  I love lazy days at the beach or pool, or even on my couch snuggling with my dog Cairo. When I’m not being lazy I love exploring Charleston’s historical sites and exciting nightlife.  I designed my bracelet with Charleston in mind.  It’s sparkly, yet casual; glitzy, but also sophisticated! It’s the perfect piece for any outfit. Oh and did I mention I LOVE the color purple?!?”

Her most recent design is a gorgeous piece with an array of purple tones and sparkling black hues. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lacy’s vibrant bracelet comes from a stunning collection of inspirational images.  You can always view her current Inspiration Board on our Inspiration tab.

Credit: 1. Palm Tree Photo from http://www.seabreeze-inn.com 2. Bridge photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/dustin-ryan. 3. Downtown Photo from http://www.shorpy.com. 4. Fountain Image from http://www.charlestonsouthernhomes.com 5. Her personally designed bracelet from Clearance Charms.

March 31, 2011

Run, Run!

by ClearanceCharms

This Saturday’s Cooper River Bridge Run is a big deal to Charlestonians. A 10k foot race starting in historic Mount Pleasant ( previous home to Clearance Charms!), crossing the famed suspension Ravenel Bridge and ending in gorgeous downtown Charleston – it’s a spectacle to witness!

The bridge itself is 2.5 miles long and 200 feet high.  The incline is a moderate 4% slope so our runners won’t get too wiped out!  The Ravenel Bridge offers a dramatic backdrop for glowing orange skies illuminated by the sunset and a soaring peak reaching through the clouds in mist.  Bridge traffic of course is shut down during the event but a gracias sidewalk is open daily for runners and walkers.  If you come to Charleston, be sure to take a trip to the top and see the city and harbor sparkle beneath your feet.

One of the NewDreamz team members, our resident marathoner Miss Niki, is participating this Saturday.  Working overtime all week, we’re all wishing her sweet dreams Friday night for a speedy morning run.  She sets a wonderful team example as she finds solace and peace in running – something we can all hope to achieve in every day life.

As a spectactor, one rarely takes notice of all the preparation that goes into an event like this.  For weeks now, the streets along the route have been abuzz with activity.  Restrooms have been trucked in, flowers and plants spruced and cleaned to their prettiest.  Not to mention the fencing, tents, signs, banners and booths that have been set up along the way.  A great deal of effort goes in to every city event around the country and I must say it’s awfully refreshing to see the excitement in city workers’ and volunteers’ faces as they dutifully prepare for the big day.  It seems to me that they know that their combined efforts allow for a wonderfully fun day.

Anyone who wants to make life more fun is OK in my book.

To learn about the Bridge Run, visit their site here.

                                          

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