By TODD CHESTER JAN. 30, 2015
RALEIGH — Mere weeks after deadly terror attacks in France shocked the world, Triangle residents of Gallic descent expressed support and solidarity for America’s oldest ally.
One of the largest outpourings of Francophilia took place last week at the trendy Lafayette Village in North Raleigh. What is normally a gathering place for affluent tennis wives after their match at the Raleigh Racquet Club became the backdrop for a stirring candlelight vigil. Hundreds gathered for the event at Raleigh’s “Little Paris” to celebrate the French people and freedom. Especially freedom.
Celia Kay Littleton, who handles leasing for the Lafayette Village shopping center said, “The architecture of this upscale shopping destination is the perfect tribute to French culture, and this passionate crowd is the perfect tribute to the French spirit! Vive la Raleigh Nord!”
Lafayette Village retailers Simply Crepes provided food for the crowd, Jubala shared French press coffee, and Vinos Finos provided tiny samples of skunked French wine. The powerful climax of the evening came when the lights on the miniature Eiffel Tower facing Falls of (the) Neuse Road were extinguished and the crowd began shouting, in frenzied Ric Flair style, “Ouis!” Many residents held homemade signs reading “Jaycee [sic] Charlie.”
Syndi Kramer came from Youngsville for the rally but she said she will be back for the fine food and original architecture. Eyes atwinkle, she said, “I thought, why get a passport and go to Paris and spend all that money when I can just hop on 540 and have pretty much the same thing!”
Some local businesses are relieved to see the outpouring of support. Many businesses were caught off guard in 2003 by the public’s backlash against everything French for the nation’s perceived lack of support of the U.S. Invasion of Iraq. Even NoFo at the Pig in cosmopolitan Five Points was forced to change their brunch menu from “French Toast” to “Breakfast Toast,” causing great confusion among patrons who wondered why toast would cost $15 when it could be had at Finch’s for $1.65.
Another business impacted by the boycott was the Neuse Sports Shop in Kinston. For years, ITB teenagers risked hazing, especially shanking, if they didn’t sport a colorful array of Frenchman Creek shorts sold through the Neuse Sports Shop. All that changed after the war started.
Trent Woods, general manager of the Neuse Sports Shop recalled, “all of a sudden, people started boycotting the store because of the name of the shorts. They would just pull in at King’s BBQ and bypass us. We tried to change the name to ‘Freedom Creek’ shorts, but it was too late. That, coupled with the decreasing popularity of shorts that at certain angles will display your testicles, led to its demise.”
Even Cubbies Burgers of Beaufort, which made national news for renaming their fries “Freedom Fries,” is considering softening their stance. Reportedly the names “Surrender to the Fries,” seasoned “Gallic Fries,” and just plain “Fries” are under consideration. “We’re still weighing our options,” explained Cubbies manager Stan Bordeaux.
Mamers resident Ronald Bumgardner was finally moved to take his “Boycott the French” bumper sticker off of his Chevy Tahoe, which has been there for nearly 12 years. “Now that the French finally know what it’s like to experience an attack on their own soil, I decided it was time to forgive. But God as my witness I won’t forget!”