We live in a time when cultural and political differences can divide us, because of this Reader's Digest set out to find the "Nicest Place in America."

This place would be one where people are kind to one another and treat each other with respect.

And they found it right here in our Valley.

"So they're not necessarily places with the nicest houses, or the nicest this or the nicest that, it's the nicest people," said Editor-in-Chief of Reader's Digest, Bruce Kelley.

The Main Street Theater in Downtown Columbiana was full of life Thursday night. There was a full house for a sneak peek of their up and coming performance of Shrek Jr. that is put on by a cast comprised of people with special needs.

Also, the crowd was full of anticipation. The theater is the centerpiece of what put Columbiana in the running to become named the "Nicest Place in America," and many in the crowd were optimistic that a winner might be announced.

But, when the performance came to an end and nothing was announced the crowd started to file out.
Then about 30 seconds later, the theater's Artistic Director, Erich Offenburg, while on stage received a call.

"Hello? Yeah. Oh my gosh, you guys. Wait a minute. Don't go anywhere, don't go anywhere," said Offenburg in an excited manner. "This is Jeremy Greenfield from Readers Digest. He's on the phone right now he said come in and have a seat."

The scene was planned, but a surprise to many in the audience.
Moments later Greenfield, who is a writer for Reader's Digest was unveiled from behind the stage and also introduced the magazine's Editor-in-Chief.

Kelley wanted to personally recognize 91-year-old Mary Lou Wilson, who wrote into the Magazine nominating Columbiana as one of the Nicest Places in America. Kelley said, "People have to hear about places where people give and take care of each other."

Kelly asked Wilson her advice to Americans. She said, "People are people. (It) doesn't matter what religion you are or what color you are or whether you are rich or poor or whatever, people are people - that's all."

And perhaps, it's that mindset, that is the reason Reader's Digest then unveiled Columbiana as "The Nicest Place in America."

On 21 News at 6 PM, we will have more on this honor in Columbiana, why they were selected by Reader's Digest out of more than one-thousand nominees and why the Main Street Theater is the centerpiece behind their nomination.



You can read the entire Reader's Digest Article, which will be out on October 22, here: