Why Knoxville’s thrives when others have disappeared

Why Knoxville’s thrives when others have disappeared

Many Knoxville residents spanning multiple generations have enjoyed going to West Town Mall.

And to many, it has never been just a place to buy items at a store or eat at a restaurant.  Walking in the comforts of the interior enjoying the sights, sounds and aromas has also been part of the  special experience there, just as it has been at other malls around the country.

All these experiences – from teenage shoppers trying to see or be seen to senior citizens simply enjoying an early morning walk there – are collectively being celebrated this month with a 50th anniversary observance of the mall’s opening.

To begin the celebration, a “blast from the past” gathering was held on Aug. 2, exactly 50 years to the day the mall had first opened.

“Everything went well. We had a great turnout,” said mall director of marketing and business development Kippy Price of the event that included a live DJ, food and other treats from mall eateries, and prize giveaways.

Held in the court area outside JC Penney, the gathering also offered opportunities for attendees to take selfies and group photos at the anniversary backdrop. And perhaps most special as far as linking the decades was a memory wall, where people have been able to write their memories.

“We’ve gotten quite a few (writings),” Price said. “The biggest memory people are sharing is being at the mall and shopping and eating when they were kids, and now sharing that memory with their own children.”

She also said one man wrote that he was 19 years old when the mall opened 50 years ago and was working at the former Miller’s department store and attended the grand opening.