How do you take a group of 11 excited kids ages 12-19 across town to ride the Incline Railway up Lookout Mountain? CARTA public bus service of course! The #10 bus stops at Glass Street and N. Chamberlain Ave., at a waiting station the community has been proudly keeping vandalism-free. The group gathered at GHC at 10am Saturday, July 16 for Koch’s Bakery donuts, and when they boarded  at 11:55, there was only one other passenger riding. Our neighbor Gail Mitchell McKeel came as a chaperone and happened to know the driver personally, so they chatted, and the kids talked as well. Justin Palmer came along on the trip, and said it was fun to ride a route he normally takes for work, but with his friends from the neighborhood instead. While only 3 of the young riders used CARTA prior to the outing, those who do, like Justin, report the value in freely accessing the tech services at the main branch of the Public Library. “It’s great to ride from Glass Street down to where they have that whole floor just for teenagers to use computers and 3D printers and all kinds of stuff, or just to wander around downtown playing Pokemon Go,” Justin reports. He seems to think after their July trip, more of his friends might start taking the bus regularly.

The CARTA driver was friendly and helpful, even providing a free transfer for the kids, making it easier to arrive in St. Elmo, at the base of Lookout Mountain by around 1PM. The Saturday crowds meant waiting in line and playing with Teal Thibaud’s popular dog, Millie. Social waiting time was not wasted on the chatty group of teens, several of whom came along because of their involvement in Magic Markers film project next door on Glass Street this summer, so they enjoyed the chance to mix with new friends bringing their creative flair to the neighborhood too.

Up in Point Park, the group met ranger, Chris Young, who explained the meaning of the park and its monuments, indicating one of the statues which was vandalized the Friday prior to their trip. Because of the sudden downpour, only a short tour of the park had to suffice, with many quick pictures of the view, before making the return ride on the Incline Railway to catch the 3:30 bus back to Glass Street for Papa Johns pizza at the GHC building.

 The young riders all said they would take the bus again, and enjoyed meeting a regular passenger lady who told them about how convenient it is for her to ride, and how much she used to enjoy walking around Raccoon Mountain. Interacting with neighbors is part of helping our kids catch a wider view of their city.

Thank you to the National Park Foundation through support from the Coca-cola Foundation.