For 10 years, Romans of all ages have been walking down Broad Street for the annual Walk A Mile in her Shoes event.
People line the streets to see the parade which has grown to include community groups, companies, mascots, music, banners and even a marching band.
But the people who line Broad Street are really there to see the most entertaining aspect of the parade — men in high heels.
As a light-hearted way of bringing attention to the very serious issue of domestic violence, men of all ages are encouraged to wear high heels for the walk from Rotary Plaza, down to 2nd Avenue, then back Rotary Plaza.
Some men have participated for years, risking injury and their dignity by putting on pumps, stilettos, sandals, boots and wedges for the often painful, but always important walk downtown.
This year’s event will take place Friday, Oct. 13 with registration and festivities beginning at 11 a.m. in Rotary Plaza (between the old courthouse and the Forum River Center). Activities in Rotary Plaza will include contests, prizes, a photo booth, Smoothie King treats, Chili’s strawberry lemonade and a caricaturist.
A special addition to this year’s event will be an exhibition of art by Rome Art Coterie members who were asked to submit pieces of artwork with the theme “A Woman’s Shoes” to be displayed and sold at event, with the money benefitting The Hospitality House.
But the festivities are just the prelude to what the event is really all about — the march down Broad Street by hundreds of Rome residents. They walk in solidarity of those who have been victims of gender violence and although it’s a light-hearted event, they also walk to remind the community that domestic violence is a real and pressing issue here.
Chris Farrell will slide his feet into size 13 heels he got at Payless just for this year’s walk. He said he’s doing it to raise awareness and specifically in support of his wife.
“And it’s a great cause,” he said. ‘If we can shed some more light on this issue by wearing heels then I’m happy to do it.”
Stephen White will be wearing a tall pair of black platform boots during the walk. He said the event shows unity in the community at a time when it’s more important than ever to do so.
The Walk a Mile brings attention to the issue of domestic violence as well as to the presence of The Hospitality House, a local shelter that provides a variety of services to victims of domestic violence including emergency food, shelter and clothing, 24-hour crisis intervention, financial support, legal advocacy, parenting support group, domestic violence support group, individual and group counseling and relocation assistance.
City Manager Sammy Rich will be slipping his feet into some big heels for the event.
“This is my second year to participate in this most worthy cause,” he said. “I think any time we can focus our attention on a serious topic such as domestic violence, perhaps we are able to make a difference in our community. I hope to see a large crowd again this year as we work to create more awareness.”
Although not required, registration for Walk a Mile is encouraged and can be done in advance at www.hospitalityhouseforwomen.org. Donations toward the mission of Hospitality House will be accepted at the event.