Every year on September 1st, when the calendar date coincides with Memphis' telephone area code, Jen Simmons Clarke gives a little hat tip to her beloved city.
But this year, Clarke and "I Love Memphis" blogger Kerry Crawford are teaming up to turn that casual hat tip into something more: a citywide celebration of all things Memphis on what they're calling "901 Day."
"It just kind of hit me," Clarke said. "Why don't we use this as a day to celebrate the city and make it a citywide holiday?"
Clarke said the idea for 901 Day has been in the hopper for a while now. She initially planned to launch the annual event as part of her work for The Commercial Appeal, where she was the newspaper's social media specialist. But when she was laid off in a round of cutbacks last December, she took her big idea with her.
The day is being billed as a "hater-free Memphis holiday," and guidelines for celebrating are intentionally vague.
"We just want everyone to do their own thing and celebrate what they love most about this city," Clarke said. "We're fun-loving people, but we're harder on ourselves than we need to be. We give ourselves our own black eye and fail to see the things that make living in Memphis really awesome."
Clarke and Crawford have set up a website, 901day.com, where Memphians can share their ideas for celebrating, post events they will be hosting, or search for 901 Day events to attend. The website will feature a map of 901 Day events across the city.
But aside from the website's loose collection of ideas and events, Clarke and Crawford are leaving 901 Day up to the participants. Clarke suggests any number of ways to celebrate: a pool party, cookout, block party, backyard concert, or any number of small- and large-scale ways of celebrating a holiday.
"There's already so much going on that weekend," Clarke said. "It's Labor Day, and there's the Cochon event downtown, and it's the first Tigers football game. So if you have a spot on Tiger Lane, you might say, 'Okay, I'm going to have a keg of Ghost River, and I'm going to be at this tailgate spot. Come have a beer with us.'"
According to the website, at least one event is already planned for the holiday: a free, live performance by Jeff Hulett at Shangri-La Records. Clarke says they've gotten a few more event proposals and are hoping for many more as the date approaches. As if by some cosmic force, September 1st falls on a Saturday this year, making it the perfect opportunity for partying all day and all night.
In addition to resident-organized events, Clarke and Crawford are looking to get local businesses involved with 901 Day specials or sales. Anyone interested in submitting an event can do so online at 901day.com.