Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Charm of Charleston, IL

After living in Coles County for a total of six years, off and on, I have come to love the charm and small-town life that Charleston and Mattoon offer.  JC and I are moving back to city life in a few weeks, so I thought I would take the time to highlight the top five things I have grown to love about Coles County.

5.)  Coles County has a number of great parks and historic landmarks.  Fox Run State Park, Lake Charleston, Lincoln Log Cabin, Douglas- Hart Nature Center, the 5 mile house, and Lake Mattoon are just some of the places to visit.  I have only been to half of the places on this list.  During college my friends and I would take blankets out to Lake Charleston to sun bathe and during grade school I dressed up in Colonial clothing and spent the day as people did during the 1800s when Abraham Lincoln's family lived in the small log cabin outside of Charleston. 

4.)  My favorite Mexican, Chinese and pizza restaurants are in Coles County.  Don Sol in Mattoon and Los Potros in Charleston have great Mexican food.  QQ Buffet and Pagliai's have amazing Chinese, pizza and pasta.  You would be hard to find any EIU graduate that would not mention Chubby's cheese sticks as being a favorite late night food.  So far I have not found any other restaurants that beat the taste and price of these restaurants.  The original Jimmy John's restaurant was also founded in Charleston.  It started as an extremely small little building smashed in between two bars.

3.)  Coles County also has some pretty great festivals.  Charleston's Red, White and Blue Days and Mattoon's Bagelfest in July always have some fairly popular musical performances.  EIU's Spring Celebration brings out tons of food vendors and local artists on the North Quad of EIU's campus to celebrate the end of the school year.  Be sure to bring an umbrella though, it always rains during the weekend of the Celebration.  Finally the Christmas light display in Mattoon's Peterson Park is pretty impressive and always worth the drive through the park to see the neat light displays.

2.)  You can't visit Charleston, or graduate from Eastern, without riding the Panther.  The well-known bronze Panther statue is outside of Marty's bar on campus.  Old Main, which is the oldest building on EIU's campus, is a beautiful old castle-like building.  Pemberton Hall, situated right next to Old Main, is the oldest residence hall.  Rumors around campus say the Hall is haunted.  Here is a link of the story of the ghost at Pemberton Hall.  Because of this, and the fact that it has no air conditioning, I made sure to request another residence hall when I lived in the dorms. 

The infamous Panther outside of Marty's.

Old Main
1.)  A big crowd pleasure in Charleston is Bingo night at the Moose Lodge.  During the school year the place is packed.  The monetary prizes given away are pretty sizable and the booze and food is cheap, appealing to the college crowds and locals.  The bingo announcers are unlike any I've ever seen, egging on the crowd to follow through with sayings for different numbers ("B9: it's not a tumor; B4: and after").  After a night of bingo, people (sometimes covered with pink and purple dotted dob markers) walk to a couple downtown bars to engage in more cheap drinking.  Uptowner, on the square, and Lefties Holler are a few favorites.

I'm sure I've left off a lot of unique things about Coles County, but during the past six years these are just some of the things I have enjoyed while living here and will miss in a few weeks when we move.

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