Cody Shelley, manager of the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home, will tell you the annual Flannery O’Connor Birthday Parade and Street Fair is truly a uniquely-Savannah event.
“I would describe it as a book fair, art fair, community festival with cake, coffee and tea to celebrate Flannery O’Connor,” Shelley said, “The day really caters to locals and is truly in her spirit--I mean, it has chicken poop bingo.”
The annual free event takes place on March 24 from 1-4 p.m. in Lafayette Square. The street fair celebrates what would have been O’Connor’s 94th birthday and features live music, games, artists, local authors and birthday cake. The parade starts at 3 p.m. with a blessing by Bishop Emeritus J. Kevin Boland and everyone is invited to follow behind the Sweet Thunder Strolling Band to circle the square.
And Shelley adds the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home, just off Lafayette Square, will be open for free tours during the party—and some people may be surprised to know the home continues to see an increase in visitors every year.
“Her writing transcends time,” Shelley explains. “... I love when parents bring in their teenagers and do a tour and they become interested in Flannery and I say, ‘you gotta try reading her short stories.’ They are so accessible to a younger audience and she’s a master at them. She knows how to pack a lot of punch in a short story.”
Parade organizer Andrew Hartzell agrees with Shelley and adds O’Connor is such an important person in Southern literature that he felt a celebration of her work in Savannah was needed.
O’Connor was born in Savannah on March 25, 1925 and lived here until 1938. Readers will notice she drew inspiration from her childhood experiences.
“And Lafayette Square is such a beautiful square in our city that is not really used for events,” Hartzell said.
He adds that guests are welcome to dress in costume inspired by O’Connors literary characters or bring handmade signs for the parade.
“It’s just a fun day,” Hartzell said. “We’ll have local authors and artist Panhandle Slim does a pop-up and we’ll have other local vendors as well. It’s just a really fun way to connect with the public and share our interest in Flannery O’Connor.”