By Barney Blakeney
Charleston Eastside’s Aiken Street Parlor Boyz may have borrowed a line from Bruno Mars – “If we show up, we’re gonna show out!” They did just that December 22 at their seventh annual Children’s Christmas celebration. The Parlor Boyz gave away 125 new bicycles to children, 34 electronic tablets, toys, scooters, trains, clothing and served meals to an estimated 350 people at their annual Children’s Christmas block party. In addition to providing traffic control, Charleston Police Department’s Team One officers donated 15 bicycles.
The loosely-formed social group that includes former Eastside residents, athletes and friends far and wide brought together hundreds of people for the annual event. Many, including neighborhood residents and churches contributed money, time and service.
Kim, Lisa, Josie and Andrea filled in the void left by Hattie Mae Gethers on the serving line dishing out ribs meticulously tenderized by grill master Charles “Wildman” Addison. The fare included every delicacy imaginable from Roy Burton’s crab and shrimp yellow rice to Melvin “Sweet Black’s” lima bean.
The Parlor Boyz’ unofficial leader and event coordinator, former Burke High School basketball Coach Earl Brown, said in addition to CPD Interim Police Chief Jerome Taylor and officers Olsen, Mullins, Seabrooks and the congregation of Rev. Darryl Coulter special thanks should go to Santa’s elf Cheryl Brown, Ashley, Kathy and the staff at Toys ‘R Us on Rivers Avenue in North Charleston. They made it possible for “just some guys of meager means” to make Christmas special for so many children, Brown said.
The event grew out of an idea hatched by Brown and the late Gary “Cheap Man” Smalls. The pair held the first bike giveaway with two bicycles, Brown said. It’s grown substantially since then, Brown marvels.
The Parlor Boyz recognized deceased members on their t-shirts this year. The names included those of the owner of the shoe shine business for which the club’s name is derived, John “Callahan/Cap” Fludd, “Cheap Man”, Frederick “Bep Bop/The Psychedelic Drummer” Bailey, William “Stump” Malloy, Peter Jenkins, Robert “Wash” Washington and Willie “Big Willie” Nelson.
The Parlor Boyz also recognizes Fludd every Father’s Day weekend with a similar block party event and they hold special events to honor fallen members. Brown said next Christmas’ event already is off to a good start. “We’ve got five bikes and $20 committed,” he said.