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314 Day means sharing the STL love

Fans cheer loudly as the Blues pass during the championship parade on Saturday, June 15, 2019.
Nick Schnelle
St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis cheers the Blues' championship parade in June 2019, celebrating the first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

When Keisha Mabry Haymore moved to St. Louis for a Teach for America job back in 2010, she didn’t know much about the city. The Louisville, Kentucky, native recalled that she’d visited just once or twice before the assignment.

“Like, all I knew about St. Louis was the Arch,” she recalled.

Initially, Haymore found the town difficult. “To be honest, it was really hard going to networking events and people asking you, ‘What high school did you go to?’” she said on Monday’s St. Louis on the Air. “My first year in St. Louis, without family, was just a real struggle.”

But Haymore didn’t give up. She made a challenge for herself — forcing herself to meet 100 people in 100 days. “I just had to think, if I am going to make St. Louis home, I need to make St. Louis home and be more intentional about that,” she said.

How a STL transplant came to love the city — and the people

Haymore’s plan ultimately became a book, “Hey Friend: 100 Ways to Connect with 100 People in 100 Days.” It also changed her life. In trying new things every month, from DJing to improv to jumping out of a plane, she found a community.

“What I've learned is, you have to show something — show interest, show love, show support, show kindness. And when you show those things, you break down those barriers that keep us divided,” she said. “By leaning into St. Louis and being more intentional about how I was connecting with people and meeting with people, versus letting the high school name be a barrier, St. Louis instantly showed me love back.”

Added Haymore, “I feel like, truly, all the dreams, hopes and wishes that I've been able to realize here, I don't know if they would have happened in other cities.”

For the entire noon hour on 314 Day, St. Louis on the Air celebrated the things we love about St. Louis — including the St. Louis accent and the majesty of Mister Gary, the host of TV’s “Them Yo People.”

The show also explored the origins of 314 Day with the man who started it back in 2006, event promoter Young Dip.

Then getting started as a DJ, Dip said he decided to promote a day tied to the area’s main area code after thinking back on how it felt in the early aughts, when St. Louis sports teams were on fire and Nelly brought national attention to the city’s music scene. “It was just like, ‘How can we re-create that feeling,” he recalled.

Meet St. Louis’ King of Hospitality, Mr. Gary

As 314 Day Communications Director Jami Ballentine Dolby shared, while 314 Day is a citywide celebration today, it started in the Black community. “What's unique about 314 Day is nobody has forgotten that,” she noted. “And nobody has had to be reminded of that.”

Dolby sees 314 Day as the city’s homecoming weekend — but she cautions that it’s not just for people who grew up here.

“We always talk about what high school you went to,” she acknowledged. “314 Day is not about that. It's really about, have you ever lived in St. Louis, are you from St. Louis, do you currently live here or do you have any connections to the city?” If the answer to any of those questions is yes, she said, 314 Day is for you.

Here's why people love the St. Louis region:

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Emily Woodbury, Kayla Drake, Danny Wicentowski and Alex Heuer. Jane Mather-Glass is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Sarah Fenske served as host of St. Louis on the Air from July 2019 until June 2022. Before that, she spent twenty years in newspapers, working as a reporter, columnist and editor in Cleveland, Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles and St. Louis.

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