Aug. 25, 2012 may well mark the date that the historic South Side business and service corridor of Parsons Avenue makes an abrupt leap forward toward an exciting and new level of revitalization.

Aug. 25, 2012 may well mark the date that the historic South Side business and service corridor of Parsons Avenue makes an abrupt leap forward toward an exciting and new level of revitalization.

And 2012 is the perfect year as Columbus celebrates its 200th birthday.

That is certainly the intent of the forces that have been coming together all year to Plant Pride On Parsons. With a $20,000 Keep America Beautiful Lowe's Community Improvement Grant and an army of determined supporters and volunteers, the intent is to literally change the face of the venerable South Side artery. Many storefronts and facades will be repaired, painted and upgraded as needed. Store and service owners will be encouraged to pay extra attention to the look of their units going forward.

Since 2010, Keep Columbus Beautiful - a Columbus community improvement program based in the Department of Public Service - in concert with the Parsons Avenue Merchants Association (PAMA) and community stakeholders, has worked to improve the corridor with litter cleanups and beautification campaigns. An effort to incorporate both art and green space into the corridor became the centerpiece of Plant Pride on Parsons, with 126 handpainted urn-sized flower planters permanently placed at strategic locations along the avenue. Flowers and greenery in season adorn the planters.

Members of The Heart of Ohio Tole Chapter of decorative painters designed 123 planters, each with its own distinctive look.Three planters were handpainted by art classes at South Side schools. Bustling urban Parsons Avenue is now a botanical art gallery.

But more awaits the South Side as on Wednesday, Aug.15, Lowe's Heroes will meet on the avenue and use their expertise to prepare more than 35 properties for a transformation. Their efforts in sanding, scraping and otherwise preparing rotted boards for painting will make the actual Paint Parsons Day much more productive.

Saturday, Aug. 25, KCB and PAMA will execute the extraordinary facelift with the help of 600 volunteers from Columbus area Vineyard churches. The Vineyard, a key partner in the 2012 Columbus Volunteer Challenge, is making giving back to the community the priority of its 25th anniversary activities. Participating merchant properties along two miles of the Parsons corridor will receive a fresh new look, thanks to designs and colors proposed by the Columbus Neighborhood Design Center.

The South Side's Parsons Avenue became known as The Gateway to the South Side because of its importance as a main thoroughfare tying together eight distinctive neighborhoods. To this day, Parsons Avenue remains the hub of South Side activity. The expansion of Nationwide Children's Hospital and Mayor Michael B. Coleman's proposed redevelopment of Reeb Elementary School and the former Schottenstein Store site is breathing new life into this proud and historic area.

If you have not been to Livingston and Parsons lately, you are in for a big surprise. The pride is back!

To join the 2012 Columbus Volunteer Challenge, visit www.columbusvolunteerchallenge.org. For more information on Keep Columbus Beautiful and Plant Pride on Parsons, visit the KCB website at www.keepcolumbusbeautiful.org.

Jim Robinson is public information coordinator for Keep Columbus Beautiful.