By Molly • Molly Walker • 

Mac's Main Street makes national final

Voting, conducted online, concluded at 8:59 p.m. Pacific time Wednesday, July 2. Results won’t be revealed until Parade’s Aug. 17 edition, which will feature the winner in a cover story. But Andy Abrahams, executive editor of Parade, said the magazine will probably notify the winner a bit before, since Parade will be doing reporting for the final story.

To make it into the finals, McMinnville had to battle several towns along the way, with the winners moving daily from Sunday until Wednesday.

McMinnville first topped Placerville, California, then Georgetown, Texas, and finally Siloam Springs, Arkansas. On the other side of the 16-city bracket, Collierville bested Greenville, South Carolina, then DeLand, Florida, and finally Ellicott City, Maryland.

Other cities making the list, culled from thousands of nominations submitted by readers, were Flagstaff, Arizona; Holland, Michigan; Excelsior, Minnesota; Galena, Illinois; Rockland, Maine; Ridgefield, Connecticut; and Corinth, Mississippi. All will be mentioned in the Aug. 17 edition of Parade, which claims 54 million readers around the country.

Running tallies were posted in the first, second and third rounds, and they showed most of the head-to-head matchups were very closely contested. That was particularly evident in the semifinals, where McMinnville edged Siloam Springs 50.13 percent to 49.87 percent and Collierville slipped by Ellicott City 51.83 percent to 48.17 percent.

Running totals were not posted during Wednesday’s fourth and final round.

Abrahams said the magazine had asked readers to nominate their town’s main street, to be featured in an upcoming cover story about the country’s most charming downtowns, in its March 23, 2014 and May 28, 2014 issues. Readers were directed to a page on www.Parade.com to submit nominations.

From that point, a team of the magazine’s editors sorted through the nominations and selected 16 finalists based on some simple criteria, including population size and the presence of a main street or town center where anyone — whether a longtime resident or a casual visitor — could appreciate the unique, local flavor of the town or city. The editors were also inspired by what those who nominated their towns had to say about their main streets — also taking into account a sense of history, community and charm.

“We are hoping to inspire others to appreciate their own home towns or maybe look at where they live in a new light, while providing inspiration for others who might want to become more active participants or leaders in revitalizing a main street or downtown that might need a boost. In other words, recognizing the beauty and character that makes all of America’s towns great,” Abrahams said. “Congratulations to McMinnville for providing some of that inspiration!”

Cassie Sollars, manager of the McMinnville Downtown Association, said, “It’s been exciting.” But she said it had also been grueling.

“We know it’s not so much that one Main Street is any better than another,” Sollars said. “It’s about getting the word out.”

She felt that not showing the poll in the finals — and waiting until the print publication to reveal the winner — was a good idea. For the winner, she said, “It’ll be a great surprise.”

Sollars said, “We know we have a really magical Third Street.” And she said the publicity the contest had generated had already proven positive for McMinnville and environs.

“It’s really, really an exercise in fun and being proud of your downtown,” she said.

Sollars is hoping that when people take trips, they’ll remember the 16 towns that made the original bracket and take the time to visit their Main Streets.

The website described McMinnville, population 32,545, as follows:

“Many say this picturesque downtown looks like a movie set. Locals call the main drag ‘the living room of McMinnville,’ while the tree-lined street has comfort, charm, eclectic boutiques, award-winning restaurants, wine tasting stores, upstairs apartments, artwork, and a successful farmers’ market. Annual festivals such as the Turkey Rama and Alien Daze offer family fun.”

Collierville, population 46,462, was described this way:

“This quaint downtown area has an old-fashioned quality to it, with plenty of shopping, dining, and events like Easter egg hunts and parades. There’s also a park decorated with gazebos and old-fashioned streetlights.”

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