In recent weeks the Krog Street tunnel has been the site of controversy, but last Saturday night the streets of Cabbagetown were filled with masquerade partygoers and a few curious residents.Broadcast Version of this story
Among the crowd there was a man riding a unicycle, a masked couple on stilts and a jazz ensemble.
Abby Ellis is a resident of the neighborhood and lives across the street from the tunnel. She has lived in the area for three years and decided to check out the event.
“It just looks really ridiculous. I mean it’s completely …cheesy,” says Ellis. “The people that are attending the party don’t seem to be residents of our neighborhood – it’s just like people that come and think ‘Oh look at your cool graffiti and your cool tunnel like we’re some sort of novelty… and I find it a little bit insulting.”
Ellis also doesn’t understand the $100 ticket price to party in a tunnel.
“I mean, we love our tunnel but it’s not some place we want to have a party in,” says Ellis.
Randall Fox, the event organizer, says he got the idea for the masquerade after seeing a Facebook photo of a party in Paris.
Fox says he’s received a lot of criticism in the weeks leading up to the event, but has remained open to anyone with questions.
“I have given myself available to anyone who’s wanted to ask me a question,” says Fox. “I mean, my phone number my private phone number is on the internet. So is my email address…a nd very few people have reached out to me.”
Fox says a portion of the money raised for the event will go towards the Georgia Foundation for Public Spaces, a non-profit he founded nearly a decade ago that provides financial support to artists. The Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces is the event arm of the non-profit and its staff, made up of four full-time employees, oversaw all the planning for the masquerade, he says.
A few days before the event a group of local artists painted over the iconic graffiti inside the tunnel as part of a silent protest.
Fox says he learned about the protest a few days before through Facebook. He says though some local artists have raised issues with the event, not everyone is against the masquerade.
“I was in Home Depot last night actually with someone buying some paint and there were like 10 people in there and I’m like ‘what are you guys doing?’ and they’re like ‘we’re going to paint Krog tunnel’ and I’m like ‘you’re kidding – let me pay for your paint’ and they’re excited,” says Fox. “They see grey paint – they see it as a fresh canvas.”
An artist who wanted to take advantage of the newly blank canvas was Psy.
He was painting his tag on the wall just an hour before the masquerade was to start.
He says he’s lived in the neighborhood for several years but hasn’t chosen a side in the battle over the tunnel.
“I’m just kind of putting a stamp of culture back on that which has been a piece of Atlanta’s culture for so long. Eventually this has to become a part of our culture again and I’d like to add my stamp to it,” says Psy.
Other local artists had added their art to the tunnel walls in the hours before the event, which included graffiti and detailed murals.