Thanks to Holly Mull, our festivals will live on and on

By Maria Saporta

In Atlanta, the word “festival” is synonymous with Holly Mull.

Mull was the godmother of several of Atlanta’s most popular festivals — such as the Inman Park Festival, and the coordinator of festivals all over the city — including the recent inaugural Midtown Arts Festival that took place a couple of weeks ago.

So it was only fitting in a sad kind of way that at the end of today’s Gay Pride Parade — perhaps Atlanta’s most colorful festival — I learned that she had passed away suddenly on Thursday.

My friend, Nick Gold, asked me if I had heard about Holly. It’s rarely good news when someone asks you that question.

As Gold told me that there would be some kind of service on November, all I could think about was how much Holly would have enjoyed being at today’s parade that ended up with the festival at Piedmont Park.

This was Holly Mull’s kind of event — waves of people were enjoying a beautiful Atlanta afternoon walking along a closed 10th Street enjoying a special time when anything goes.

Mull understood that Atlanta — as in other great cities — came alive when we celebrated events in public places. The last time I saw her was at the Midtown Arts Festival a couple of weeks ago. In fact, just about every time I would see Holly over the years would be at festivals. She was like a butterfly that would fly from festival to festival, pollinating our city with new life.

The best way we can honor Holly Mull’s memory is to make sure we keep our festivals alive and well for generations to come.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

20 replies
  1. Terreta Scope-Rodgers says:

    Holly Mull was the “Parade Queen of Atlanta.” Few people will truly know how much this remarkable woman did for this city. She will be missed.Report

    Reply
  2. Nancy Tao says:

    A Maria Saporta bylined article is the ultimate Atlanta tribute to an amazing woman who gave her heart and soul to every event she ever produced for the City of Atlanta, her beloved neighborhood of Inman Park, and for the hundreds of thousands of festival goers and parade watchers who somehow knew a Holly Mull event was one not to be missed. God Bless You, Holly. The greatest event on earth … is now in heaven!Report

    Reply
  3. Chantelle Rytter says:

    The Krewe of the Grateful Gluttons will always remember Holly Mull. We are eternally grateful to Holly for 10 fantastic years of parading together. We appreciated her constant enthusiasm for our silliness. We appreciated her encouragement to apply for grants and step up our game. If it wasn’t for our 10 years with Holly, we wouldn’t have giant skeleton puppets and lantern parades.

    Rest easy, Holly – you know you can count on us to keep our celebrations alive and well.

    -Chantelle
    Krewe of the Grateful Gluttons, Cpt.Report

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  4. Angie Wehunt says:

    I’m heartbroken to hear of Holly’s passing, I really don’t know where we’d be without her expert directing. I’d probably be wondering the park in a silly costume or scooting in the wrong direction waving at the people wondering what the heck I’m doing. I 2nd Mr. Gold’s comment, I’m sure she’s queuing the angels. God bless you and keep you and may we do you proud.Report

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  5. Bram Majtlis says:

    Thank you Maria for writing about Holly Mull. She was a remarkable woman. Her enthusiasm and passion to direct large events and parades were amazing. She leaves all of us with great memories. We spotted Holly only 2 weeks ago walking Peachtree, in the midst of directing the Midtown Festival……. I will remember her like that….She will be missed. Rest in peace Holly.Report

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  6. Julie Herron Carson says:

    Maria — I can’t believe Holly is gone. She was so full of life and such a positive force for the city. I was really fond of her, as were so many others. She will be sorely missed.Report

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  7. Leslie Breland says:

    Oh what a shock to read of Holly’s passing. I think back to the 1980’s when I was with ACVB, working with Holly on yet another festival or parade. Her enthusiasm, ability to not accept ‘no’ as an answer to pull of yet another parade or festival. She loved what she did and her memory will live on in all that is good about Atlanta. Rest in peace, Holly.Report

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  8. Nicholas Wolaver says:

    Holly was a great partner and friend for work on the recent Midtown Festival of the Arts, where more than 20,000 attendees experienced the result of Holly’s hard work and pro-Atlanta positive attitude. She is and will be missed!Report

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  9. Susan Allen says:

    Thanks Maria and all the wonderful people who commented so fondly about my big sister Holly. Her son, Carter, and the rest of the family are stunned and sorrowful, but your comments are the bright spots in these dark hours. Of course Holly would want us to smile and parade about in her honor, and I hope we can produce a little parade . after her memorials service (TBA.) Maria was so right–the best way to honor Holly is to continue the festivals and paradesReport

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  10. Bill Todd says:

    I predict that the Inman Park Festival Parade next April will take on a new sense of zest. Perhaps there should be a new entry in the parade — Friends of Holly.

    She could organize a spontaneous party in a New York minute, frequently from her house on Elizabeth Street. Often this would be in the “Hollow” in the back where all of the houses on the block opened up into green common space, like a little town square.Report

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  11. Susan Guerrero Praver says:

    Thank you Nick for letting Maria know and thank you Maria for writing such a beautiful tribute to Holly! I partnered with Holly on many events when I was in Atlanta and she truly was like a beautiful butterfly and a bright shiny smiling light. I loved her spirit and presence and I know she will be missed by so many who were lucky enough to know her. I already miss her….. We love you Holly! Love SusanReport

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  12. Claudia Zevallos says:

    What a sad day for Atlanta events and the event planning community. It is hard work that Holly was able to accomplish with dignity and grace. Not an easy feat to accomplish with the size and magnitude of the events she produced.Report

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  13. Susan Allen says:

    Someone asked me to post this on their behalf (Susie Allen)
    I have known Holly Mull as a partner and friend of more than forty years. She was a wonderful, vivacious, strong and positive person who met each day with vigor, anticipation and the will to succeed at the tasks of the day. She met each obstacle with great determination and a will of iron as a challenge she would invariably overcome with her charm kindness and pleasant demeanor. Her friends are legion for she invariably liked everyone she met and treated all people with dignity and respect. All those who knew Holly will miss her. She was a good friend to everyone and we are all fortunate to have counted her among the precious souls we have met in this life.

    In 1970 she bought a house in Inman Park that was so rotted and decrepit the roof sagged between each supporting pillar even though she could have purchased the “Hines House” in Druid Hills for less. To Holly the house on Elizabeth Street was much prettier because the sagging made it looked like “it was curtsying”. Through her strength of determination, she had that house restored to the point it became one of the most photographed houses in the United States.

    She loved Inman Park and worked to make sure mortgage lenders resumed business in the neighborhood and it was again zoned as a residential community.

    Holly used her strength of will and positive approach to everything to bring joy and fun to the City. She worked tirelessly to bring parades, festivals fairs, parties, and fun to our City. She emphatically promoted and extolled the wonders of each upcoming event in her excited and animated way; always extolling the virtues and joys of life in Atlanta.

    Holly is grievously missed and lost to us except in our memories. For our sake in Atlanta we hope and pray that someone will come forth to take up her mission with the joy, tenacity charm and kindness Holly showed us all.Report

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  14. Mark Clement says:

    Holly created many wonderful traditions. Always up beat and forward thinking. She was a force and a kind person. One thing for sure the woman sure could throw a party. She will really be missed. I am privileged to have known and worked with her.Report

    Reply

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