scout describes the opening of Tom Robinson's trail as a "gala occasion."
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Scout means that Maycomb had suddenly become the hub of popularity. This, however, had a tenseness to it that was almost palpable. The tension was very different among the whites and the blacks. An innocent man's life was on the line but many whites simply saw this as another Negro raping a white girl.
I think there was, among the white population, an overwhelming curiosity factor that gave this trial a sensational factor.