Even if you've never traveled to Atlanta, Georgia, the city's ubiquity in American culture makes it easy to know what some of the top tourist attractions are, from the grounds of the 1996 Olympic Games, to the World of Coca Cola, to the Georgia Aquarium.
If you're looking for something less traditional to see on your next trip to Atlanta, you'll need to think outside the box – really far outside the box. A character named "Baton Bob," who wanders the streets of the city should fit the bill.
Who Is Baton Bob?
Officially, Baton Bob is an Atlanta street performer, perhaps the city's most infamous. Of course, there's nothing "official" about Baton Bob, who dances, twirls baton (hence the name "Baton Bob"), and behaves in otherwise outlandish ways on the streets of Atlanta, often sporting flamboyant fashion from dramatic wedding dresses to tutus to themed seasonal costumes like a Halloween pumpkin dress.
Many casual passersby believe that Baton Bob simply performs on the streets for attention – less sensitive people ascribe it to his being "crazy" – but the real reason is a much more human one. Before he became Baton Bob, the man officially known as Bob Jameson suffered from depression, and his therapist recommended he do things that brought him joy to counter it. Thus, Baton Bob was born.
Where Can You Find Baton Bob?
You might expect that someone as idiosyncratic as Baton Bob would show up in random locations at random times, but you can usually find him around Piedmont Park, one of the city's most popular tourist attractions, which is close to some of the best hotels in Atlanta. Baton Bob won't be difficult to spot – in addition to his iconic tutu, you can also find him wearing miniskirts, thigh-high boots, and other non-traditional garments – and he often blows a whistle, which will lead you to him in the absence of obvious visual cues.
Think you recognize Baton Bob but have never been to Atlanta? That's because Baton Bob used to live in St. Louis, MO and would frequently perform on the streets of the city's Central West End, until a legal controversy forced him to move from St. Louis to Atlanta late in the summer of 2003.
Baton Bob's Special Performances
If you stay in Atlanta for any length of time, you're almost sure to find Baton Bob twirling on the streets near Piedmont Park. If you come during certain special Atlanta events (namely, ones centered around the LGBT community, such as Atlanta Pride), you might catch a particularly special performance and see Bob wowing a much larger audience than usual.
Baton Bob also occasionally makes cameos in more traditional Atlanta performances, including a recent stint at a play by the Georgia Shakespeare Festival. Furthermore, he's worked with the Human Rights Campaign on performances for some of its Atlanta-area events. So, if you happen to be in Atlanta while that organization is doing work in the area, you can see Baton Bob getting the spotlight someone so unique deserves.