Events and Things to Do in Delray Beach and Boca Raton

Boca Raton and Delray Beach are among the most vibrant communities you’ll ever find.

Both cities feature a vast array of events year-round that are sure to interest people of all ages and interests. From arts festivals and music events to a vibrant food scene and cultural landscape Boca-Delray has it all.

At YourDelrayBoca.com we strive to curate the best events and give you insider’s tips to make your experience the best it can be.

Success: A formula

I agree.

I agree. Do you?

When communities can’t see past the next week they suffer.

When communities scratch every itch, react to every complaint and ignore what’s positive they degrade the spirit of the most important people in a city, the people who volunteer, serve, work hard, invest, dream and aspire. The people who build community.

When I speak to groups I am often asked what it takes for an elected official to succeed.

I hear how difficult the job is, how brutal  the politics can be and how complex today’s issues seem. It’s all true.

It’s a hard job.

Time consuming and at times very stressful.  And if you care about your neighbors it can be very hard to disagree with them or to say no.

But it’s not all vinegar and heartburn either.

 Public service can be a joy and immensely rewarding. And there’s nothing like local government. If you have a good idea on a Tuesday night and two colleagues agree well then… change can be made Wednesday morning. That’s the beauty of local government.

There’s also an opportunity to engage, connect and help people. And that’s powerful and very meaningful–unless of course you choose not to do any of those things.

And make no mistake, it’s a choice.

So I deeply respect and appreciate those who choose correctly and to be honest I have no use for those who don’t.

So while the job is complex and the issues difficult, the job can be made simple.

If you serve you can be certain that you won’t please everybody. That’s a guarantee. Even the “no brainer” issues will manage to set somebody off.

So the choice is clear: who do you choose to please?

Those who are engaged in activities that move your city forward or those who sit back and complain (usually about the doers)?

The choice should be easy. But you might be surprised how many politicos blow it and choose to kowtow to the squeaky wheels and disappoint, disparage and dismay those who get up every day and seek to make the community a better place.

That’s it in a nutshell.

If you want to succeed in local politics–I can’t speak for state or federal office–determine who is busy making a positive impact and do what you can to help them.

Those people are not hard to find. They serve on boards, mentor children, seek to heal those who are hurting, raise funds for good causes, work hard to advance ideas and create jobs. They aspire. Oh, how I love that word. It makes all the good in this world possible.  

Please those folks. Work hard to help them succeed. Praise and support their efforts.

As for the rest, well don’t go out of your way to anger them. (You wont have to, they wake up mad).

Listen to your critics, sometimes they have something to teach you and other times they are simply full of it.

But they do serve a purpose–they are usually wrong. Their batting average is terrible when measured against the doers in your city. Their predictions of doom and gloom rarely come true and their negativity usually doesn’t amount to much.  The worse thing you can do is empower them; that will deflate the contributors and you can kiss progress goodbye.

On the other hand, if you listen to those who aspire, who seek to do the impossible you’ll find that the word doesn’t exist.

Oh, you’ll trip a time or two, you may even get some stuff wrong but you’ll be someone whose service mattered. It’s guaranteed. Or you can squander the opportunity and fail.

It really is that simple.

 

Festivals Have Their Place

 

Garlic Fest has become a Delray tradition providing much needed funds to local non-profits and schools. Photo by VMA Studios courtesy from Garlic Festival website.

Garlic Fest has become a Delray tradition providing much needed funds to local non-profits and schools. Photo by VMA Studios courtesy from Garlic Festival website.

We know people who love the Delray Affair.

We know others who wait with baited breath for the Garlic Festival (pun intended). And we know people who love craft beer and spend extra to buy VIP tickets to support Old School Square and enjoy the latest suds from small purveyors— many of them local.

We also know others who avoid the Delray Affair, don’t get the whole garlic thing and have no interest in tasting anything named Swamp Ape.

Different strokes for different folks as they say.

But whether you like or loathe events—and a recent poll of Delray voters show that 83 percent of them support and/or attend downtown special events–there’s no doubt that festivals have played a large role in building Delray’s brand.

There’s also no argument that they can be disruptive and costly. But a smart look at the issue would not just focus on impacts but benefits as well. In the coming weeks, Delray Beach commissioners are expected to consider a new event policy and cost structure. While many (not all)  of the policy recommendations we’ve heard about seem to make sense, the cost structure attached to the policy threatens to kill the events. This would be a big mistake. In many cases, the cost of events would nearly triple, which would most likely drive them out of business. That would be tragic.

Special events are a form of economic development. They bring people to your urban core and they help to ring cash registers and fill restaurants—and not just on the day of the event. Many people will come back to Delray after having been exposed to the downtown at a festival.

They also attract tourists and day visitors and some of those tourists and visitors have ended up investing here. We know many residents who decided to live here in part because they enjoyed the events and the overall vibrancy of the city. Events are placemaking and creating a sense of place is critically important.

Festivals also serve as important fundraisers for key community non-profits and they help to build community too.

Delray Beach is very fortunate to have a downtown, a place to gather. Cities without downtowns feel different and many seek to create urban cores to generate that community feeling.

Old School Square was a brilliant civic idea because instead of bulldozing history past visionaries like Frances Bourque recognized the strategic importance of having a cultural center at the heart of our city’s redevelopment efforts. And make no mistake Old School Square was the catalyst. The outdoor space is ideal for events and the new park– approved by voters in 2005 to replace an ugly surface parking lot– should be designed to host events and every day activities.

The energy created by the restoration gave life to efforts to create a vibrant downtown which is at the heart of our success and our economic well-being. Other cities have a beach; very few have a downtown like Delray Beach.

If you are fortunate enough to live anywhere near the downtown you have seen your property values soar–usually viewed as a good thing. There’s a correlation between our downtown’s success and property values. It’s doubtful we would’ve seen any appreciation if downtown remain vacant, blighted and dangerous. But when you are a short golf cart ride away from over 100 great restaurants, shops and yes events you can bet that translates into value. It also translates into qualify of life.

So yes there is a strong need to preach quality over quantity. Some events are tired and need to go or at the very least need upgrading. But that’s a very different conversation than a wholesale “cull”.  Where possible disruption should be mitigated and costs are always a factor but chasing away events from our central gathering place would be a big mistake especially if many of those events are contained, don’t close roads and are enjoyed by many. We should also consider that many of the events raise needed funds for worthy community non-profits.

A few emails and complaints is not a reason to jettison a formula that has worked. Event producers have stepped up and agreed to compromise on items such as their footprint, vendor quality and road closures. Our city leaders should declare victory, perhaps gently raise some fees and move on. Events belong downtown.

 

 

Random Thoughts…

Dare 2 Be Great Scholars Believe in 'paying it forward'

Dare 2 Be Great Scholars Believe in ‘paying it forward’

This is the time of year that the Dare 2 Be Great board pours over applications for scholarships.
It’s a humbling experience to read through the resumes and essays of these incredible young men and women.
Many of the essays are inspirational and more than a few are heartbreaking.
The common thread seems to be resilience. It just seems that some people are built by adversity. They succeed regardless of life’s circumstances and overcome hurdles. It’s almost as if they succeed because they are determined to live better lives.
These kids inspire me. I wish we could help them all. It breaks my heart that we can’t. We’ll keep you posted on the Class of ’16.

It’s a Miracle
Congratulations to the Miracle League of Palm Beach County which pulled off its first successful dinner on the diamond last week.
Julia and Jeff Kadel and their team of volunteers have done a remarkable job bringing the great game of baseball to kids who might not otherwise have an ability to play.
So good to see this wonderful non-profit grow and thrive. And I’m pleased to see Celsius, a company I’m involved with, step up and sponsor.

An Affair to Remember

We hope you’ll visit the Delray Affair this weekend.
The 54th annual event is a great chance to see friends and to adopt a rescue pet.
That’s right.
We’ve adopted two pets at the Affair over the years: Randy and Sophie.
Both little dogs enriched our families beyond words. We also hope the city doesn’t “fee” this event to death.

It’s Delray’s signature event, a tradition and helps our Chamber of Commerce stay healthy and more than ever this city needs a healthy chamber.

Hello Rhys, Goodbye Kim
We wish Tech Runway’s founding director Kim Gramm well on her new job in Texas.
Kim did a lot to put FAU’s ambitious project on the map.
She will be missed.

We are excited to see our Leadership Florida friend Rhys Williams step into the role of leading Tech Runway.

Thanks, Alyona

We’ll also miss Alyona Ushe well as she departs Delray’s innovative Arts Garage.
Alyona won’t be far away as she will continue to work her magic in Pompano Beach.
It’s not easy to start something and make it relevant. Alyona put the Arts Garage on the cultural map in South Florida creating buzz and staging lots of memorable shows and performances.
She made an impact.

Down To The River

river

We take a break from our regularly scheduled programming to devote a column to Bruce Springsteen who played the BB&T Center in Sunrise Tuesday night.

As you might know, Bruce and his wife Patti are part-time residents of Wellington and he has some ties to our neck of the woods through his band and some old friends.

The late great saxophonist Clarence Clemons had condo’s in Boynton Beach and Singer Island, pianist Roy Bittan has close friends in Jupiter and visits frequently and Bruce himself played a small, but pivotal role in the life of Fran Marincola, owner of two-time restaurant of the year Caffe Luna Rosa.

In Fran’s past life he was a nightclub owner on the Jersey Shore and Bruce played his club. You can read the story in a newspaper clipping posted proudly on the wall of Luna Rosa. Next time you visit CLR, ask Fran to share some stories about Bruce and the band and check out the pictures on the wall they’re great.

So it was great to see the show with Fran this week and hear the stories.

It was also transformative to spend 3.5 hours listening to what I consider the best rock/bar band on the planet. At age 66, after 50 plus years playing together, Bruce and the E Street Band remain forces of nature. If you’re sad, he’ll lift you up. If you need energy, he’s a rocket like boost. If you want to reflect on life, simply sit back  and listen.

E Street Nation—as his legion of fans worldwide are known–is a tight knit community of people who come together to celebrate music that transcends time and place.

The latest tour celebrates “The River”, a 1980 masterpiece that was an elegy to growing up, moving out, gaining distance from your parents, leaving your hometown, falling in love and coming to some understanding of life compromise’s and your own mortality.

I bought the album when I was 16 years old, way back when vinyl was king.

For me, “The River” spoke to life’s mysteries—love, the open road, independence and dreams—those that are compromised or lost. But what’s amazing about Bruce’s music-and the music of other greats—is that the material still resonates well into the audience’s AARP years. From teenage angst to middle age—the songs take on new and deeper meaning.

We went with a group—and the prevailing wisdom beyond the sheer entertainment value of the show and the marveling at the performer’s stamina– was the fact that the songs take you back and still have meaning today. That’s a rare and very unique experience.

The other takeaway is what we knew we were witnessing rare artistry and we openly wondered who if anybody would still be relevant to audience’s 40 years from today.

The Springsteen concert took place one day after The Grammy’s, so today’s hottest acts were fresh on our minds. But will any of them endure and transcend the moment? Bieber? Lady Gaga?

Our small sample thinks Ed Sheeran and Chris Stapleton may have legs, but the rest—we’re not so sure.

2016 has been a sad year for those who like the legendary artists. We lost Glenn Frey, Bowie, Paul Kantner, Natalie Cole, Lemmy and the great Maurice White and it’s only February.

We are here for a moment in time. Bruce told the audience that The River is about mortality, doing our jobs, raising our families and doing some good in the world.

Yes indeed.

From the song “Stolen Car”

“And I’m driving a stolen car.  On a pitch black night.  And I’m telling myself I’m gonna be alright.  But I ride by night and I travel in fear.  That in this darkness I will disappear.”

Hopefully not for a very long time and not without having made a difference to those we love.

 

Mysteries Revealed: Why Do We Have A Stadium?

When it's rockin' it's good, when it's empty it's not so good.

When it’s rockin’ it’s good, when it’s empty it’s not so good.

Editor’s note: First in a series of posts that will reveal the stories and answer the burning question “what were they thinking?”  behind local mysteries including “the gateway feature”, special events and our favorite “conditional use.”

The Delray Beach Open was in the news last week.
News outlets all over the world reported that 5 of the top 30 players on the planet will be coming to Delray to play in the ATP event Feb. 12-21.  And the Sun-Sentinel reported that the city commission is challenging the legality of the tennis contract with the event’s promoter signed in October 2005 with the city.
Commissioners felt the need to hire outside counsel to review the deal even though it appears that perhaps two members of the commission had no idea that such a decision was made. They don’t remember voting and nobody can find a record of an agenda item. Ironic since the outside lawyer was tasked with opining on whether the city followed the proper process in 2005 in not bidding the contract.
So much for “process” I suppose.

At least when we approved the deal it was at a public meeting with 32 pages of back-up material available for public perusal.

I was mayor at the time. More on the process part later.

It’s my understanding that Delray is the smallest city in the world to host an ATP event.
It wasn’t my decision to build a stadium downtown. That was a decision made by a City Commission led by Mayor Tom Lynch. In my opinion, Mayor Lynch was as good as any mayor we’ve had in the nearly 30 years I have lived in Delray Beach.
As good as Mayor Lynch was, he’s not above criticism. Nobody is.
Over the years the public has questioned whether the tennis stadium was a good idea.
It’s certainly debatable and it’s healthy to debate because sometimes you might learn something that you can use to inform future decisions.
But in order to have a meaningful debate rather than a game of “gotcha” which does nothing but make bullies feel a little better you have to go deeper than platitudes and sweeping indictments of past decisions.
When the decision to build the tennis stadium and redo the old and blighted tennis center was made, Delray was not the Delray we live in today.
The downtown was promising, but not quite vibrant or sustainable. The West Atlantic corridor was plagued by crime, disinvestment and negative perceptions. There was no library, no Fairfield Inn, no Atlantic Grove, no Ziree, no Windy City Pizza. There was however, loitering and drug dealing and a drive through liquor store.

So when Mayor Lynch and his colleagues (which included a future mayor named Jay Alperin) decided against relocating the tennis center to suburbia and then made a deal to build a tennis stadium to host a Virginia Slims event it was a bold and dramatic decision. Mayor Lynch thought the decision changed how people thought of Delray. He believed it encouraged investment and drew visitors to a city that was ambitious and was trying to turn the corner and become a vibrant and prosperous place.
He believed that decision, along with the restoration of Old School Square among other decisions and investments, set the stage for Delray’s renaissance.
I know how he thought, because I covered his commission and later tried to build on his and others work when I was elected to the commission.
Note the words build on–it’s the opposite of reverse. Not that prior decisions are sacrosanct or that we didn’t reverse many things that were done by prior mayors and commission’s but we did so with the benefit of either knowing or trying to understand the rationale of the original policy.
The Virginia Slims event lasted 2 or three years before Kraft pulled out of women’s tennis. The event and it’s long term deal went away. We were left with a stadium without an event. Concerts were tried and mostly failed at the facility. Boxing failed too. An arena football team took a look and then went away.
The stadium was an issue on the campaign trail and in the various meetings with the community that we held regularly during my term in office. It was called a “white elephant” and severely underutilized. It was considered a costly drain too.
So the commission’s I served on made a decision.

Right or wrong we decided not to raze or sell the stadium. But we did decide to pursue events.
Mindful of the departure of the Slims we thought it was wise to try and lock in a tournament for a long term deal. We also agreed to try concerts again (that didn’t work), approved a deal to bring the Chris Evert Pro Celebrity Classic to the stadium and eagerly approved adding national junior events during “off season” to put heads in beds. That worked well.
We also pursued and won Davis Cup and Fed Cup ties which were highly successful.
We did these things not to ring city cash registers but to market our city (the deal included TV coverage and TV ads) and to help our downtown businesses grow.
Considering the hot summer and the hurricane season (we had a bunch during that era) we thought if we could have events from November through April it would suffice. We could breathe life into the white elephant and market our city.
You may think that makes sense or you may think it was the worst business deal around these parts since IBM shunned Bill Gates and something called Windows, but that’s the rest of the story as Paul Harvey might say.
If there is a desire to get rid of the event or to renegotiate it so be it.
If there is a desire to sell the stadium, tennis center and City Hall–yes City Hall have at it. Personally, I think those ideas are ridiculous.
But regardless, it’s helpful to understand the history, context and rationale of decisions so you can best plan for the future.
Again, I don’t think selling public assets to pay for recurring expenses is prudent. I can promise you future policy makers will be looking at that and scratching their heads if indeed any of these ‘out of the box’ concepts come to fruition.
I also don’t buy into the assessment of the current administration that we are broke. Spiritually and morale wise maybe–financially no way. With nearly $30 million in reserves and a growing tax base and people still willing to invest here despite a Byzantine and never ending approval “process” I’d say we are in decent shape. Not because of current policy and “leadership” but because of vision and leadership going back to the mid 80s that was able to build a pretty cool city with growing property values and a ton of amenities that has made future progress possible citywide including Congress Avenue. (But not if you shut down or take your eye off the downtown).
We may have made a bad business decision in 2005. I would happily debate the current mayor or any elected on that point and many others including the Byzantine never ending approval process, flawed LDRs and the  lack of transparency on the fire merger and the decision to hire outside legal counsel to look at the tennis contract. As I mentioned earlier,  I’m told two commissioners didn’t even know about it. I talked to one and he said he didn’t. I didn’t call the other.
So we have outside counsel investigating whether a contract was entered into in violation of a process without a process to hire outside counsel. Interesting.
As for the opinion that the contract should have been bid, I disagree.
Here’s the ordinance we worked off of. You decide. Or maybe a court will. Our commission didn’t build the tennis stadium, we did decide to try and put things in it.

CHAPTER 36. – ACQUISITION OF GOODS AND SERVICES AND DISPOSAL OF CITY PROPERTY[4]
Sec. 36.01. – APPLICABILITY; DEFINITIONS.

(4)

Specialty Goods and Services. Acquisitions of or contracts for specialty goods and services (including but not limited to performing artists, artwork, special events, entertainment, and food and beverage) may be made or entered into by the City Manager without utilizing a Sealed Competitive Method or the Written Quotations Method. Acquisitions of specialty goods and services, where the expenditure by the City is estimated to be twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000.00) or greater, shall be subject to approval by the City Commission.

Thanks Joe

Mr. Debonair

Mr. Debonair

Editor’s Note: Joe Gillie officially retired this week as President and CEO of Old School Square. A celebration of his legacy will be held Nov. 7 at Old School Square. To get tickets visit http://delraycenterforthearts.org/

 

I remember the first time I met Joe Gillie.

It was 25 years ago and he was a board member at Old School Square, which at the time was a fledgling experiment in a town trying desperately to change its narrative.

It was 1990 and Delray Beach was a very different place. In March, the city held a landmark election and elected a slate of candidates who promised to reform government, bring stability to City Hall and implement what was being called a “Decade of Excellence.”

The 80s had been a rough decade for Delray, also known as “Dullray” back then. The city had serious crime issues, the downtown had major vacancies and the crack cocaine epidemic had engulfed entire neighborhoods. But there were signs of hope all around. Visions 2000 brought people together, there were plans to reform schools, a new CRA was doing good things, historic districts were being established and the Decade of Excellence Bond passed with huge voter support, promising over $20 million in needed improvements and beautification.

A year later a visionary police chief was hired and a new chamber president too. It was a time of hope and promise and Old School Square was at the forefront of civic endeavors charged with being a catalyst for downtown revitalization.

Two years after I met Joe, he became President of Old School Square. By 1993, he was in charge of our first bid for an All America City Award and when I say he was in charge, he was in charge.

Joe managed every detail using his theatre background to craft a presentation that literally blew the judges in Tampa away. I recently found archival footage of that event and it was remarkable to see our diversity and spirit in action—and it was remarkable to see Joe’s leadership at its most impactful.

He incorporated young and old, black and white, east and west into a team. In baseball they call it clubhouse chemistry; that intangible that makes champions. Joe was the architect of that chemistry and the vehicle was the All America City Competition.

When you view the footage from that event, you see a young Mayor Tom Lynch, civic giants like C. Spencer Pompey, dedicated city staff like Lula Butler and Dorothy Ellington, residents like John Tallentire and Sandra Almy and you just marvel at the energy, spirit, humor and camaraderie. There was trust among neighbors, people loved their city and trusted their local government enough to go millions of dollars in debt in order to achieve a vision.

Old School Square itself was a big risk, and you can see in founder Frances Bourque’s eyes her trust and belief in a young Joe Gillie to pull off a vision that if successful would mark a huge turning point in the city’s rich history.

In hindsight, winning that first All America City Award was the propellant we needed as a community to tell the world that things in Delray were changing and we were serious about lifting up all parts of our community.

Joe Gillie was at the forefront of those efforts. He, along with many many others, helped to win two All America City Awards and we became the first city in Florida to do so.

But Joe was our captain. In Joe, we trusted. He kept this city focused, laughing and moving forward through good times and challenging times.

Joe was a different kind of leader. He wasn’t walled off in some office, he could be found in the trenches, usually with a broom in those early days, but always with a larger than life personality that greeted patrons, promoted shows, programs and classes and always talked up the larger goal which was building community through culture.

We hear, often, how people are replaceable. How no one person is larger than the mission or more important than the enterprise. Part of that old saw is true, except that people are not replaceable.

There will be people who serve as President of what is now called the Delray Center for the Arts and hopefully they will do a great job in the role. But there will never be another Joe Gillie. He’s an original; a Delray original by way of Virginia.

In August, I attended a surprise party for Joe at Smoke. It’s not easy to surprise Joe, but it happened. Many of his friends were there and it was a wonderful night, full of memories and laughs, but with Joe in the room there is always talk about the future.

Joe is departing from his role, but he’s not retiring. He’s a creative force and creative beings don’t stop inventing and innovating. He will act. He will sing. He will write. He will paint and he will continue to be a vibrant and positive force in our community.

During the party a loop of old photos ran on the wall in back of Smoke. Joe looking dapper in a tux. Joe with hair. Joe and me and Gary Eliopoulos dressed as rappers (Joe is the only guy who could get me to do that or to get Diane, my wife to sing Rodgers and Hammerstein songs with localized lyrics at a roast in front of 450 people). Joe made us believe. His time here was magical—pure magic. How lucky we have been.

 

 

1993: A Magical Year

My wife discovered a gem recently.
While attending a fundraising party she met someone who converted old videos to DVD’s.
Searching through her archive of videos, she discovered footage from Delray’s first All America City bid in 1993.
About 140 residents made the trip to Tampa after qualifying for the finals in a hotly contested competition sponsored by the National Civic League.
In ’93, the All America City competition attracted a record 150 plus applicants, cities ranging in size from Pittsburgh to small towns in Tennessee.
Delray was chosen one of 30 finalists and ended up bringing home the award. In 2001, the city would take its second All America City title in Atlanta, becoming the first Florida city to win the award twice.
I was a reporter during the ’93 awards and remember being disappointed when my newspaper denied my request to travel to Tampa to witness the event. I had to cover it remotely, calling officials during and after the competition. By 2001, I was on the City Commission and we brought another large contingent to Atlanta to showcase our cities progress.
Viewing the footage, I was reminded how amazing the All America City awards were and hopefully still are.
Yes, there is a performance piece of the process that some may find hokey, but there was also some serious grilling from a panel of grizzled civic veterans who ask in-depth questions of participating cities.
It’s a heated competition between cities that are really serious about solving problems and working together.
The All America City award doesn’t mean you’re perfect, but it does mean that you are hard at work finding innovative solutions to difficult problems.
In 1993, Delray had some very hard problems to work on: poverty, poor schools, drug abuse, crime.
The Decade of Excellence was being implemented and so were ideas from Visions 2000 and the earlier Atlantic Avenue Task Force.
There were some green shoots happening downtown, but we were far from the thriving central business district that we see today.
Still, in viewing the official and raw footage from the event, mostly shot by my wife Diane–then assistant planning director, you could see the camaraderie, unity, confidence and excitement among a cross section of the community.
The 140 member contingent that travelled to Tampa was a large party compared to other cities and also very diverse. Black and white, young and old, east and west, business leaders and neighborhood activists and a city staff that oozed confidence and excitement.
It was fun for me to see faces that I haven’t seen in awhile, our transformative police chief Rick Overman, our former volunteer coordinator Mike Wright, the chair of the effort the wonderful Sandra Almy, Frank McKinney, Chuck Ridley, Lula Butler, Elizabeth Butler Burrows (who was a little girl) Bob Currie, Bill Wood, Frances Bourque, Chris Brown, Mike Weiner, Kevin Egan, Debra Dowd, Cory Cassidy, David Kovacs and on and on.
It was very poignant to see some departed Delray Beachers who were so important to our community: Mr. and Mrs. Pompey, Ken Ellingsworth, Helen Coopersmith and the wonderfully kind John Tallentire.
The Mayor at the time, my friend Tom Lynch was there as well; with his children who were little back then but now grown and running businesses.
The footage showed a really young and very energetic Joe Gillie leading the large group through the performance part of the competition. Joe is retiring in a few months. What a run, he has had. What a run.
My favorite part of the footage was the behind the scene shots, the breakfast footage, where neighbors relaxed and laughed with each other. The scenes of the booth, where people posed for photos and picked up literature about this beautiful town on the ocean in South Florida were also great.
Of course, hearing the former Governor of Hawaii call Delray’s name as a winner was also fun to watch. The yells of joy, the relief, the celebration.
Sandra Almy was on the verge of tears when she thanked the jurors and recognized the large group who made the journey and gave of their time and talent to move their hometown forward.
1993 was at the beginning, when it was exciting and the possibilities were enormous. They still are. At least I believe so.
I came to Delray in 1987, it was a vastly different place back in those days.
Times change, towns change, people move on. Many are still here, some move away and some pass.
But spending some time with those old videos reminded me of why I fell in love with this place.
You could feel the spirit, you could sense the warmth and you could see a community coming together to forge a future together.
It was magic. Pure magic.

Guest Post: Memorial Day Thoughts

MemorialDay

Editor’s Note: Jack Levine is a Leadership Florida friend and a frequent blogger. He runs the 4Generations Institute in Tallahassee. We thought we’d share his thoughts on Memorial Day. Have a safe weekend.

By Jack Levine

4 Generations Institute

As Memorial Day, Monday May 25th, approaches please join me in pausing to honor family members and neighbors who sacrificed as members of our Armed Forces.

 

Whether our veterans survived their military service, or were lost on the field of battle, our country owes each of them, and their families, a debt of gratitude.

 

As we look back at the wars advocated by presidents, declared by Congress, and supported to varying degrees by our citizens, let’s remember that none of these conflicts were or, to this day, are immune from political and social controversy.

 

But we should never confuse debate over military policy with the need to be respectful of those whose lives are at risk on the battlefield, in the air, or on the seas.

 

Our freedoms were earned, bled for, and in many cases, died for.

 

Memorial Day presents the chance to gather our thoughts and honor the military service of our parents and grandparents, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins.

 

Individuals who either volunteered or were drafted, wore the uniform of our armed forces, and gave all or a portion of their lives in service to our nation and its allies.

 

Our American WWII veterans are passing away at the rate of 1,000 per day.  These elders deserve a great measure of our respect in their advancing years.

 

In honor of those we’ve lost, let’s not be passive about the importance of their sacrifice.  In their honor, let’s pledge to participate in the following advocacy activities:

 

  • Register, vote, and urge others to do the same. Democracy demands dedication!

 

  • Actively communicate with our elected officials about issues affecting families, including military families. Remember, our elected officials work for us!

 

  • Share your thoughts in the media by writing letters to the editor and interviewing about your advocacy passions with reporters. Media is our most cost-effective megaphone.

 

  • Motivate youth to exercise their voice in matters which affect them. The next generation of advocates needs good role modeling.

 

  • Confront those who think that complaining about problems is sufficient. Whining is not as good as winning!

 

  • Compliment community leadership and promote active involvement by friends, colleagues and neighbors as volunteers, whom I call “time philanthropists.”

 

  • Support causes which focus on advocating positive change. Spectatorism doesn’t produce progress.

 

Leadership is….

Caring more than others think wise,

Dreaming more than others think practical,

Risking more than others think safe, and

Expecting more than others think possible.

 

Please keep in mind that while we relax over holiday weekends, some neighbors…our first responders….police, EMT, firefighters, abuse investigators and hospital personnel…and of course our military forces abroad and here in domestic service…remain on call and stay vigilant to protect us and our families.

 

Recognizing these heroes among us, supporting them, taking care of their families and giving them an honest compliment is a worthy action that pays great dividends.

 

Can You Fall For Your City? Yes You Can

Peter Kageyama will be in Delray April 30.

Peter Kageyama will be in Delray April 30.

 

Have you ever been to a restaurant that was once a hot spot and now seems tired and old?

The kind of place where you look around think, “Wow, what happened? This used to be amazing. Now it’s dead.”

If restaurants don’t keep up with the times their customer base either ages or moves on, a sad fact of life.

I wonder if cities work the same way. I suspect that they do.

I read a lot about cities in a variety of publications, books and blogs and a common theme seems to be emerging: the notion of what some call a “switched on” city.

Peter Kageyama, who will be speaking 6 p.m. April 30 at the Crest Theatre, talks about this concept in his books and speeches. He focuses on the little things that cities can do that make people fall in love with them.

The concept of loving your community may sound sappy to some, but it’s critically important.

If you love something, you commit to it. And if you commit, you tend to care, invest and protect whatever it is you are passionate about.

Viewed through that lens, it would appear that getting people to fall in love should be the ultimate goal of a city.

Love is another word for engagement and can be measured by voting percentages, volunteer hours, and willingness to show up at community events, whether people speak out on issues and how they talk about their city.

I remember being a young reporter in Delray in the mid to 80s, a volatile time in the city’s history.

There was division on the City Commission, instability at City Hall, concern about crime and the Police Department and huge concerns about vacancy and the lack of traffic downtown.

But despite these significant headwinds there was optimism everywhere you looked. Why? Because people loved their town, cared for it and were willing to do whatever it took to solve problems and make things better.

The political divisions were largely personality driven. There wasn’t a whole lot of arguing over policy or direction in those days.

Wisely, the city’s leaders embarked on a process called “Visions 2000” which provided future city commissioners and mayors with a blueprint for what kind of city stakeholders wanted to see take shape. The Decade of Excellence Bond, CRA, DDA and city investments helped pay for the vision and good leadership and staff ensured progress.

Visions tend to unify. Without a vision, cities, businesses, organizations tend to drift. Drift always creates a vacuum and in that vacuum there is trouble in the form of personal agendas, score settling and other happy stuff. If a community is absorbed in implementing a vision, there’s little room for trivial matters and not a lot of tolerance for pettiness. Majoring in the minor, doesn’t work.

Visions create excitement. And excitement creates momentum. Momentum leads to traction and results.

It also builds confidence among citizens that ideas can come to life and that their precious time is not being wasted in some “check the box” process designed to placate residents and provide politicians good “optics.”

And when change occurs, love and commitment builds. Now you’ve really got something. You’ll have good people run for office, your elections will be about ideas and keeping things going not mindless generic campaigns (I am against crime! John Q. Candidate is a fill-in-the-blank bad guy) you get the picture. Your schools and police department will have volunteers and your non-profits will be supported.

But here’s the rub…you are never done. Even if you reach this nirvana and I think in many ways Delray and Boca Raton have tasted this level of success, you can’t let up. Complacency is a killer.

Like a restaurant, you better add some gluten free items, a delicious vegetarian menu and some local craft beers. You may have to change the decorations too and add some music as well.

For Boca and Delray, I believe a key will be how to create a community that appeals to millennials.

By the end of 2015, millennials are expected to officially outnumber the baby boomers. Marketers estimate that millennials control more than $1.3 trillion in discretionary spending in our consumer market, and this number is sure to grow. It’s their turn and it’s their time.

Do your museums and cultural venues appeal to millennials? Do your neighborhoods and parks provide what they like? Retailers and restaurants will make the shift, or not, at their own peril.

But cities need to be thinking about this generational shift as well.

Not that the boomers are done. Speaking as a boomer (1964 was the last year so I qualify) we will not go quietly into the night. But the world is changing. You can see it on Atlantic Avenue, Mizner Park, Palmetto Park Road and at The Fresh Market on Linton. Look around; there are a lot of young people.

So what do millennials like? According to researchers there are four key millennial pillars: Authenticity, Uniqueness, Meaningfulness and Innovation.

Not a bad list. Boomers and other generations might look those pillars too. Perhaps, cities can embrace that list as well.

Who wouldn’t fall in love with a city that is authentic, unique, meaningful and innovative?

 

Random Thoughts on a Monday

Pet Parade also raised funds for Dezzy's Second Chance Rescue

Pet Parade also raised funds for Dezzy’s Second Chance Rescue

Random thoughts on a Monday…

Happy 10th anniversary to the Delray Beach Miracle League

It’s hard to believe that a decade has passed. I still remember the first presentation that Julia and Jeff Kadel did at City Hall.

Their passion, commitment and ability to deliver are simply remarkable. They got it done and our kids have benefitted immensely.

Sure, it takes a village, but the village has to include some amazing people and the Kadel’s certainly qualify.

Congratulations on a truly remarkable achievement.

Blaze Pizza

My day job requires that I keep up on some trade publications and so I have been reading a whole lot lately about a new franchise—Blaze Pizza.

Blaze Pizza is being billed as the Chipotle of the pizza business.

Explosive growth is being predicted for this concept, which is a build your own pizza and then watch it cook in 180 seconds.

Blaze recently opened on US 1 in Boca and we tried it last week.

The review: wonderful.

Fresh ingredients, gluten free, plenty of veggies available and a friendly staff.

Keep an eye on this concept.

Easter Bonnet Dog Parade

Every year I wait anxiously for the phone to ring, praying for the offer.

It came this year while sitting at the Solita Table at the Savor the Avenue event.

“Would you be a judge at the Easter Bonnet Dog Parade?” said CRA Green Market Director Lori Nolan.

Are you kidding? Of course!

There is no more fun under the sun than to watch the parade of dogs and sometimes cats, birds, goats and chickens that show up in their finest Easter wear.

The people are pretty interesting too.

This year, was no different. And the cat, 18 years old and brave, got a special award.

It was also interesting to note that most of the pets who participated were rescues; fitting since the parade highlighted the great work being done by Dezzy’s Second Chance Rescue, a fixture at the market.

 

Kudos to the Pineapple

Our friends at The Pineapple Newspaper did it again with a very cool April Fool’s prank outlining a new TV series featuring Delray politics.

There was some inspired casting including Ed Harris as Mayor Glickstein and Eva Longoria as Commissioner Jordana Jarjura.

Last year, The Pineapple created a stir when they reported that Boca Raton was purchasing Delray Beach. The report went viral on social media.

Kudos to Jeffrey Dias, Ryan Boylston and the team for their good work.