Thankful For The Vaccine

The Health Care District did a great job.

On the day I got my first vaccine, Florida reported 5,093 new Covid cases and 94 more deaths bringing the death toll to 33,219 and the total case count to almost 2 million.

By the time you read this, those numbers will have increased. But we know that the numbers only tell part of the Covid story.

Every “stat” is a person with a family, friends—a life. This virus is a beast—it is not the flu.

Covid can be lethal and for those who survive but suffer  from “long hauler” symptoms, it’s not something that you can just power past.

So when I got an appointment to get my first shot last week at the South County Civic Center in West Delray I was thrilled.

Sometimes you don’t realize how stressed you are until you experience relief. And truth be told, I’ve been worried about re-infection and anxious about the variants I’ve been reading about.

I was able to book an appointment with two of my co-workers so went together. Like most Americans—indeed most humans—they’ve been touched by Covid with family members suffering from the virus and with a few relatives dying as a result.

We talked about how lucky we were to be getting the vaccine and how sad it is for those who died before a vaccine was available.

I’m especially grateful because I thought this virus was it for me. So when I sat down, rolled up my sleeve and thanked the Palm Beach Fire Rescue “vaccinator” for giving me the shot, I got a little choked up.

He asked me if everything was OK and I said “oh yeah, I am so happy to be sitting here right now.”

He talked to me briefly about soreness and side effects and truth be told, I barely listened. Because a little soreness or a fever doesn’t compare with 39 days in the hospital wondering if I’d ever see my loved ones again. Bring it on, if it spares millions from the horrors of this disease I’m all in.

Yes, I’ve seen the anti-vaxxer screeds on the Internet and social media—isn’t the First Amendment grand? But I’m throwing my lot in with the scientists. I have faith in them. I am so grateful for their efforts.

These vaccines are modern day miracles, I believe they will save millions of lives.

That’s my  firm belief.

Everyone is entitled to their own views, but I’m rooting for people to take the vaccine and I’m rooting for herd immunity because I’ve felt the ferocity of this virus from inside the belly of the beast. It didn’t want to let me go and it has claimed a ridiculous amount of lives.

And every day…every single day… when I ache, experience headaches and feel some “brain fog” I am reminded that I had this thing.

I don’t say this to elicit sympathy, I know that I am a very lucky man.

I chose at the beginning of this experience to share with you the good, the bad and the ugly in the hope, that maybe my sharing would raise some awareness.

So we chronicled it all. I say we because I’ve had a lot of help all along the way.

We talked about long haul issues and the emotional aspects of Covid, because the pandemic has unleashed a lot of trauma on society.

To continue in that vein,  I wanted to come full circle and share about vaccines.

My belief: they are safe and effective.

My hope: you will get vaccinated.

After taking the shot, they ask you to stay 15 minutes to see if you have a reaction. I sat with a bunch of people who were just jubilant. You could sense the relief and the emotion in the room. A woman nearby cried softly and said she wished her mother had lived long enough to get the vaccine–Covid took her a few months before the shots were approved. Yet, amidst the sadness there was a lot of joy and a lot of relief too.

I sat there with a sense of hope and pride; hope for a better future and pride that we have the scientific chops to protect humanity. It was a very powerful moment.

Let’s do all we can to get our lives back.

Let’s do all we can to help our health care workers who have been through so much and let’s support our local businesses who have suffered mightily by doing what we can to venture out again.

That’s my hope, that’s my prayer. I hope you and your loved ones are spared now and forever.

 

 

 

 

Hello Old Friends

Sorry for the poor pic. Best I can do.

When you get to be my age you find yourself having lived a few lives.

There’s childhood. The teen years. College. Early adulthood. The parenting years and now the (mostly) empty nester years.
It flies by in an instant.
But the blur of years leaves you with perspective, a few scars and several buckets of friends from the various eras and roles we play in life.
I have friends from my years in the newspaper business, and friends from my time spent volunteering in Delray. I have friends at the office, business friends, college friends and friends from my time in Leadership Florida.
I cherish them all and feel extremely fortunate to have had good friends at every step of the journey.
I am so grateful.
This pandemic has made me even more appreciative because I miss seeing my friends and being able to make plans to get together.
I’m sure you do too.
For me, it’s one of the worst things about this miserable, exhausting and scary year.
But every two weeks at 9 pm I pour a drink and pull up a chair and tap into a cross section of friends that span my childhood, teen, college, early adult and now middle age years.
As we log onto Zoom, I see all these old, familiar faces populate my screen and for an hour or so, I’m transported to a better world. It’s a world of jokes and conversation, a world of memories and future plans, a world that’s familiar and not as uncertain.
I’m on the Zoom with guys I’ve known since I was 6 and 8. We know each other’s parents and siblings, we played Little League together, took the Long Island Rail Road to “the city” to explore and fondly remember each other’s first cars.
I knew their teenage crushes and heartbreaks, what teams they root for and which teachers they loved. We can complete each other’s sentences.
Together, we fill gaps in our collective memories but there are some sacred stories that none of us will ever forget.
Over the months we’ve been doing these calls we’ve added some guys who drifted away—never gone—because the bond is too strong —but drifted nonetheless.
As I mentioned, time flies. And our once daily connection slipped as we moved, married, had kids, went into business, changed jobs and lost our hair while also losing  the ability to see each other regularly. But we never let go of the basic friendship we shared. And now that we are comfortably in our 50s, I believe we will be friends for the rest of the ride.
Still, time is an interesting thing we grapple with.
I can still see the young men in the visages of middle age guys who populate my screen.
I can still see their youthful essence.
There’s Dave’s curiosity, Dewey’s kindness, Joe’s enthusiasm, Steve’s quick wit, Scott’s ever present grin and Brian’s ability to frame an issue.  Ben’s still a rascal and Howie has the same laugh he had as a kid. Greg is still the broad shouldered body builder he became as a teenager.
I’m proud of these guys. Every last one has been successful in their careers. They all have nice families and good lives.
We are spread out now—from California and Arizona to North Carolina, Virginia, New York, South Carolina, Wisconsin and New Jersey.
Combined we have seen a lot of the world and covered a whole lot of ground—kids, grandkids, businesses, hobbies, marriage, love, loss and adventure.
Some of the guys have been there every step of the way. Others drifted for periods, but were always there in our memories.
But thanks to the pandemic and the efforts of my friend Dave, we are all together again every other Wednesday on a screen for 90 minutes of laughs and friendship during a hard, hard time.
I’m over this miserable year. But when we get past this—and we will most certainly will—I will remember this as the year that my oldest friends came together to help each other through the storm.
I always knew I could count on these guys—for a lifetime.
I hope this inspires you to reach out to an old friend.

March Round Up

Things We loved in March.

Not much. Let’s face it, it has been a trying month. And trying really doesn’t cover it does it?
Historic? Yes. Awful? Very.
But there’s always a silver lining. So it was nice to see the compassion of neighbors. Nice to see the lack of complaining when beloved community events were cancelled.
Here a few highlights…some of which were written before the onset of Covid-19.
The Socially Distanced Supper Club founded by John Brewer and Ian Paterson forms “flash mobs” to support local restaurants during this trying time. What a great idea by two truly great guys. Find the club on Facebook.
Kudos to a group of Delray moms who started a GoFundMe page, Food and Morale for Healthcare Workers and 1st Responders. Donations support employees on the front lines at Delray Beach Medical Center, Boca Raton Regional Hospital, West Boca Medical Center and Bethesda Hospital West. Additionally, people in fire and EMS, law enforcement and janitorial services across South Florida.
We are fans of Delray Morning Live.
It’s a terrific local show that runs every Wednesday at 8:30 am on Facebook. If you miss it it’s archived.
But if you care about what’s happening in our town you really need to check it out.
We were really thrilled to see Marisa Herman, the truly excellent editor of the Delray Newspaper and Boca Newspaper on a recent show.
Granger’s is rapidly becoming a go-to lunch spot. Heck, it’s arrived. And for good reason.
Great food, fair prices, friendly service and easy parking. It’s a winning combination.
Our favorite: the turkey burger. We took out during the crisis. Please consider supporting your local restaurants.
Once the crisis passes, if you are in Boca for lunch, check out Madison’s.
Great food, good service and the best sautéed broccoli you are likely to find.
I tried watching Hunters on Amazon Prime with the great Al Pacino.
It was well done. Pacino was excellent. But I quit after two episodes. Way, way, way too violent. The real world is scary enough.
Kudos to Boca Raton on their new park Hillsboro El Rio North.
It’s so well done. Beautifully laid out with the right blend of open space and activities.
Well done. Boca parks are just the best. Very special.
Congratulations to Boca Mayor Scott Singer on his re-election.
Mayor Singer has done a fine job and truly seems to enjoy serving and promoting his city.
He’s a mayor who matters and he’s done a great job during the coronavirus crisis.
We finally checked out the Wine Room on Atlantic Avenue.
It’s terrific.
Lively, great happy hour menu and the space just can’t be beat in terms of historic character.
Wishing them well.
When the ban on gyms is lifted, If you want to be inspired, get up early and head to The Zoo in Boynton Beach to watch Delray architect Gary Eliopoulos put on a workout clinic.
He’s there most mornings at 5 am.
If you didn’t see it, Google Alex Trebek’s short video on surviving one year with pancreatic cancer.
He’s a brave soul and an inspiration. One day at a time. No matter the situation.
For the first time in its history, Delray Beach Fire Rescue has achieved accreditation with the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI).
DBFR, which was officially awarded this prestigious status  at the Center for Public Safety Excellence conference in Orlando, is now one of only .9 percent of fire departments in the country that hold this accreditation, as well as Class 1 status from the Insurance Service Organization, which it achieved in 2018.
Seeing Delray’s very own Taverna Trela featured on Restaurant Impossible was cool.
Very entertaining episode.
We mourn the loss of Linda DeNiro, daughter of our late friend Jack DeNiro.
Like her dad, Linda was a realtor and a long time resident of Delray.
We also lost Carmelita Smith, a longtime affordable housing advocate in Delray.
She was a kind and dedicated professional who will be missed by those of us who worked with her.
We also mourn the loss of Tommy Stevens, who along with Libby Wesley, ran the Roots Festival for many years. Tommy was a gentle soul who cared deeply for the community.
Let’s hope April is a better month. Be safe and stay healthy.

Things We Loved (And People We Lost) in October

Congratulations to Scuola Vecchia on East Atlantic Avenue for cooking up some of America’s best pizza.

Things We Loved in October

Well, it has been an interesting month.

Sadly, we lost several community icons in October. These were people who made a difference in our lives and left an enduring legacy. Their influence will last, but we will miss them.

Among the notables whose lives we celebrate this month: Elizabeth “Libby” Wesley, founder of the Roots Cultural Festival, noted architect Bob Currie, Lt. (retired) Larry Garito of Delray Beach Fire Rescue, retired firefighter/paramedic Bernie Paul and former city manager Don Cooper. We’re sure there are others and if we’ve missed anyone we mean no harm. Condolences and prayers for all.

 

A Community Icon

Great to see Tony Allerton honored with a special event celebrating his contributions to Delray and The Crossroads Club.

We adore Tony. He’s an inspiration to so many and just a terrific guy.

 

 

Cocomania Continues

Delray’s own Coco Gauff won her first WTA event in October. We have a feeling there will be many, many more. Her first singles win came in Linz, Austria.

 

A New “It” Restaurant

Rose’s Daughter is a great addition to Pineapple Grove.

Delicious pastas, a great flat iron steak, wonderful pizzas and delicious shrimp diablo. Check it out.

 

Happy Retirement Roger!

Nelson Lazo, a veteran chief executive at Baptist Health South Florida, has been named CEO of Bethesda Hospital East and Bethesda Hospital West in Boynton Beach. The hospitals merged with Baptist Health in 2017.

Mr. Lazo will succeed our longtime friend Roger Kirk, who will retire as CEO in December. Lazo will oversee the continued integration of the hospitals with Baptist Health, as well as expansion of services to support growth in Palm Beach County. Bethesda Hospital East was recently recognized by U.S. News & World Report as among the best regional hospitals. Expansion plans are underway at Bethesda West for an ambulatory surgery center, additional beds and more operating rooms to better serve the growing community.

As for Mr. Kirk, he will be missed. He was deeply involved in the community and is just a terrific guy. We wish him well in his next chapter.

 

Pizza

We all know that a great pizza is so much more than bread, sauce and cheese.

That’s why we anxiously await the Daily Meal’s annual list of the 101 best pizzas in America.

This year a local restaurant made the list.

Delray’s Scuola Vecchia placed 97th, which is incredibly cool.

 

We’ve been long time fans of Scuola Vecchia and have recommended their pizza to out of town guests for years. We’ve never had a complaint but we have heard a lot of raves.

So how does the Daily Meal choose the best pizza. We’ll let them tell you:

“To come up with the best pizzas in America, we research the newest, best places, then build a survey of great pizzas from around the country — nearly 1,000 pizzas in total were considered in 2019.

We start by defining the perfect pie. What are the essentials? Considering the varied pizza styles (Neapolitan, Sicilian, New York, Connecticut, California, Detroit, St. Louis, bar pie, deep-dish, grandma… we’ll stop ourselves there), that’s a loaded question. Suffice it to say, no matter your pizza denomination, we believe the following qualities are essential: a nuanced sauce, neither too sweet nor too salty (assuming that the pie has sauce); quality, well-distributed cheese (assuming that it has cheese); quality, sensibly combined toppings; a flavorful, savory crust; and, perhaps most importantly, a judicious, well-balanced and pleasing ratio of sauce, cheese, toppings and crust that maintains a structural integrity no matter the style.”

Whew. Sounds like exhausting work.

 

Daily Meal then called upon a blue-chip, geographically diverse list of pizza panelists — chefs, restaurant critics, bloggers, writers and other pizza authorities — asking them to take the survey and vote only for places where they’ve actually eaten.

This year, pies from 30 states and Washington D.C. were considered. Here’s what the Daily Meal said about our local champ.

“Scuola Vecchia brings a host of traditional Italian pizzas to Delray Beach, Florida, with options for every pizza lover. Guests can choose from 24 different pizzas, from the traditional Margherita to more complex pies like the capricciosa with fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce, Italian ham, artichokes, mushrooms and extra-virgin olive oil. But if you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, there’s the option to build your own pie.”

We hope you’ll check out our local winner Scuola Vecchia on East Atlantic Avenue.

 

 What we’re listening to:

I’m listening to classic albums while working. It’s a great way to get inspired and to rediscover old favorites.

This month we listened to Abbey Road on its 50th anniversary, Gregg Allman’s “ Laid Back” and rediscovered the Go Go’s with their classic “Beauty and the Beat”. We also checked  in on Blondie’s “Parallel Lines “to mark the new Deborah Harry book and listened to The Beach Boys 1966 classic “Pet Sounds”.

We also can’t stop listening to the new Bruce Springsteen album “Western Stars.” I’ve seen the movie (twice) at the Palace and it’s just awesome.

Until next month…have a safe and fun Halloween.

 

 

 

A Return To Bay Street

Greetings from The Bahamas.
About a dozen years ago, I was part of a small group that got invited to The Bahamas to meet business and political leaders looking to improve downtown Nassau.
I was thinking about that trip and a follow up visit by Bahamian officials to Delray this week as I returned to Paradise Island and made a trip to Bay Street.
U.S. Ambassador Ned Siegel asked former Mayor Tom Lynch and I to visit and talk about what we learned from the revitalization of downtown Delray Beach. We were joined by Boca Chamber President Troy McLellan and Kelly Smallridge, the president of the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County.
It was a memorable trip. And thanks to Ned, we met a who’s who in the Bahamian business world and government.
What struck us was the lack of local government so that the “little things” that mean so much –stuff like potholes and traffic flow –were left to the national government to deal with.
One of the issues at the time for Bay Street business leaders was the magnetic pull of cruise passengers and tourists to Atlantis, the massive resort that kind of has it all from magnificent pools and restaurants, to stores, aquariums and of course a casino.
We were asked to make some recommendations and we did and we later hosted a delegation in Delray, Boca and Palm Beach County.
I’m still in touch with a few of the Bahamians from that trip, mostly on social media.
So it was interesting to go back and ask as many people as I could how downtown was doing.
Of course, when you ask you get the gamut of responses: Bay Street was “thriving”, “struggling”, doing “awesome” and “so-so.”
When we were there we saw four cruise ships and the streets and stores were busy.
Side streets looked the same as a dozen years ago–still in need of some TLC. And parts of Bay Street were doing well and parts were marked by empty stores and blight.
So it goes…but it’s a beautiful place, with nice people, vibrant color, tropical weather, good food and happy music. And the residents…they love it here. Lots and lots of pride.
One thing was notable. Everywhere we went, people seemed to still know and miss Ambassador Siegel. That’s pretty cool. He left a mark here.
I hope he knows that.

 

A Toast to Two Heroines

Dorothy Ellington

Last week, the ribbon was cut on the new Delray Beach Housing Authority “West Settlers Office Building” at 82 Northwest Fifth Avenue.

It’s a beautiful mixed use building right next to Donnie’s Place.

All of which gives me an excuse to write about Dorothy Ellington, the long time and tremendously awesome executive director of the Delray Beach Housing Authority.

Dorothy came into a troubled agency and righted the ship. She’s been a steady leader from day one and a great public servant. She cares, is passionate about her city, her staff and her clients.

Dorothy has worked extremely well with our Community Improvement Department and Community Redevelopment Agency and other agencies, organizations and departments for decades—leveraging resources and providing a basic human need—housing– which is becoming more and more out of reach for far too many people in our society.

She’s just plain good.

So are many of the public servants who wake up every day, go to work and try their best to make Delray Beach a better place.

It’s largely because of them that it is.

The Housing Authority is one of those agencies quietly making a difference in the lives of their clients. From administering a Section 8 program serving over 1,000 families to a Family Self Sufficiency Program that promotes employment and financial literacy, the Housing Authority is a big part of the Delray fabric.

Stop by the new office building on 5th Ave. You’ll see a part of what Dorothy and her team are accomplishing.

Karen Granger

Karen Granger is another one of those good people.

She resigned last week after a great run at the Chamber.

Immediately, the rumor mill went into motion– as it typically does when someone leaves a high profile position.

Rarely, if ever, are the rumors correct.

As a long time board member of the chamber under three of the five people who have been president of that 92 year old organization, I can tell you that Karen did an excellent job.

The chamber is a beehive of activity and Karen and her staff and volunteers made it happen.

The Lynn University MBA program, entrepreneurs renting rooms, lively committee meetings, fun networking events, great speakers, industry roundtables—the list goes on and on.

I knew Karen when she worked at Levenger, but while I always liked her she became a friend and a confidant during her tenure at the chamber. She serves that role for many people in our community—not just old guys like me, but young entrepreneurs seeking to find their way in business and in Delray.

Karen is always there when you need her—I felt that way about Bill Wood too–only Karen has much better hair. In fact, Karen has hair…but I digress. I just miss roasting Bill. More than I think is healthy.

As I grow older—and worry about my own hair—I find myself feeling a whole lot of gratitude for the people who give their careers and free time to our home town.

They are the ones who make a difference—often times quietly and often for little or no glory. They certainly aren’t in it for the money or because it’s easy work or because they expect a payoff beyond paying their civic rent.

It’s easy to bloviate on social media for all to see. It’s easy to label, disparage, disrespect, dismiss and defame. It’s harder to build something. But it is much more fun.

Dorothy is a builder. So is Karen Granger.

They build people up…they are kind, loving, respectful and hard working.

People often ask me if I miss politics and the answer is no, I don’t like politics. I do however miss the opportunity that politics gives you to help people.

I appreciate people …the ones who help our community; the ones who look out for others and care for them as human beings.

I like working with people and for people.

I like saying thank you and crediting a team for a job well done.

So to my friend Dorothy, congratulations on your latest outstanding project. And to Karen, thank you for being you and for being a friend to so many. Roles may change—but friendship endures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Week’s Goodshop: Unicorn Children’s Foundation

Shopfunding for Delray/Boca — This week’s cause:  Unicorn Children’s Foundation

 

In 1994, Mark Rosenbloom M.D. was told over and over again by fellow doctors that his three-year-old son’s lack of talking was something he would just “grow out of.” But, he didn’t. After a series of one misdiagnosis after another, Mark was so passionate he founded the Unicorn Children’s Foundation.

Focused on children with developmental and communication disorders like ADHD, autism, bipolar, dyslexia and other learning disorders, UCF develops groundbreaking therapies and treatments to help diagnose and assess these issues better. FAU and Nova Southeastern Universities are also involved.

And as a non-profit, every penny counts. That’s why they love Goodshop so much. Through online coupons, supporters of the Unicorn Children’s Foundation have raised hundreds of free dollars, just by shopping online.

Want to help out? To raise free funds for UCF while saving at thousands of online stores, join our shopfunding campaign, where a portion of every purchase will go back to the foundation. Here are some of the deals you can find:

24 Hour Fitness discounts: Free gym pass at any location, and 7.5% will go back to help kids in need.

Best Buy: Up to 35% off tvs, and 0.5% will go back to UCF.

Box Lunch coupon codes: 40% off select tees, and 1.75% will go back to research developmental disorders.

My M&M’s: 20% off and 5% will be donated back to support Mark’s cause.

 

Shop and Support Friends of Gumbo Limbo

There are many ways to enjoy and support the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton.

Editor’s Note: Our partnership with Goodshop allows you to shop at your favorite stores and support local non-profits.

Shopfunding for Delray/Boca — This week’s cause:  Friends of Gumbo Limbo Nature Center

 

Since 1984, the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center has been a local beacon for research, education and conservation. Encompassing 20 acres of protected land, it provides a refuge for thousands of plants and animals, many of which are threatened or endangered. Programs they offer include school day/field trips, turtle conservation volunteer opportunities and cooperative research with Florida Atlantic University.

 

The mainstay of the Center’s cause is the experience visitors have when they visit the center. Hosting more than 190,000 guests annually, this thriving Boca Raton staple offers relaxation and learning opportunities to tourists and locals alike.

 

We’d like to honor the work the Nature Center is doing this week, and raise free funds while saving at thousands of online stores. You can join our shopfunding campaign, where a percentage of what you spend will go back to the Center. Here are some of the savings you can find:

 

Strawberries.com: 10% off any order, and 5% goes back to the Center.

 

Tilly’s: 20% off one item, and 3% will go to help the turtle conservation.

 

Wolferman’s: 30% off and 3.5% will go to preserve the animal refuge.

 

Petco:  40% off aquarium supplies, and 4% is donated to protect endangered land.

 

 

Teachable Moments

Leaders not only seize the day, they seize the moments.

This is a season for reconciliation and appreciation.

I tell friends who endure criticism that in most cases it makes no sense to feed a troll.
That’s what the troll wants; for you to engage and respond.
Why give them the satisfaction?
I can only think of two exceptions:
-their warped views are gaining traction
-their actions provide a teachable moment.
Well in this case, there’s no chance of the former but there may be a lesson here to talk about. Let’s see if we can find it.
I was invited to ride on a float in the Delray holiday parade this past weekend with a group that included the Mayor and Vice Mayor and City Manager of Lake Worth and some folks from the Garlic Festival.
I said yes.
Why?
Because I like my friends from Lake Worth and I really like the people associated with the Garlic Festival.
For those of you who need a review, after nearly 20 years, the Garlic Fest is leaving Delray for John Prince Park in suburban Lake Worth.
It wasn’t a happy departure. In my opinion it was a needless controversy and not a good thing for Delray to see the event leave.

Others disagree. C’est La Vie.
Lake Worth is happy to see the event at a county park–good branding for the city; no expense.
The folks in Lake Worth have a sense of humor. It comes in handy in life and in cities.
They thought it would be fun and smart to put a float in the Delray parade to remind people of the move.
For many years, Lake Worth has had an inside joke relating to their high end neighbor Palm Beach.
The saying “Lake Worth making Palm Beach Nervous for 100 Years” has appeared on shirts and hash tags etc.
It’s both self deprecating and complimentary. Obviously, Lake Worth doesn’t present a serious threat to Palm Beach nor does it aspire to be Palm Beach. Lake Worth has its own charm.
So as a play on that schtick those on the float -me included –wore a t shirt that said “Lake Worth Making Delray Nervous.”
Now trust me Lake Worth does not want to be Delray Beach. Nor should they want to be. But there are leaders in Lake Worth who wouldn’t mind aspects of Delray’s success.
Again–the shirt struck me as complimentary and done in the spirit of fun.
While cities compete, they also root for one another and make fun of each other too –usually in an innocent way.
Former Boca Mayor Steven Abrams and I once debated over whose city was better and appeared on the cover of the Boca News in boxing gloves. Did we say harsh things about our cities? You bet we did.
Did we mean it? Not really.
I like Boca. Steven likes Delray.
It seems the shirt got under the skin of someone who seems to be aggrieved frequently–especially if you don’t agree with her.
That’s Ok, she’s entitled.
So she spewed on social media on a page I don’t frequent, opining that the float “dissed” Delray and that it was disgusting for a former mayor (that would be me) to partake in this grievous insult of her beloved Delray Beach. (A friend sent it to me, otherwise I would have missed it).
Well…
Where do we begin? What is the teachable moment?
Ok, how about this.
It’s ok to have a sense of humor. In fact, it’s imperative.
It’s ok to like another city other than your own.
It’s ok to root for a neighbor to succeed and I’m rooting for Lake Worth.
I have lived in Delray Beach for almost 30 years and few have questioned my love for this city–even those find my beliefs about smart growth, economic development and the Garlic Festival–well disgusting.
But to equate wearing a t shirt to an act of municipal treason is so far off the mark that it defies description.
I didn’t think I was participating in a protest but what if I was?
Is it wrong if someone wanted to make a statement about losing a community tradition that supported local non-profits and didn’t harm anyone?
Are we so tribal that we can’t like another city? Are we so humorless and angry that we can’t poke fun, or crack a joke?
There are many many many people who don’t like the blistering criticism of Delray Beach from a small batch of people who have never given back much if anything to this town.
But they are often the first to assign blame, take offense, assume motives, lash out and yes make threats. (Like don’t advertise in a paper because the owners don’t agree with your politics).
As we approach the holidays, we sadly live in a divided city in a divided nation. I sincerely hope we can bridge those divides both in Delray and across America.
Maybe it would help if we gained a little perspective.
In east Aleppo people are praying for death over injury because death is more merciful when you live in a place with no hospitals, food or medicine.
In countless households across our nation, families worry about sons and daughters in the grips of addiction. People are jobless, homeless and in despair.
A former newspaper colleague of mine just lost her daughter to cancer. She was a young mother.
If a Garlic Fest float can anger you, I suppose you are blessed. I reserve my anger for injustice, hatred, racism and corruption.
So your comments don’t bother me. Your judgment of my motives and those of my friends also mean nothing because you don’t know us. You think you do, but you don’t. I actually wish you’d get to know some of us because we aren’t monsters. You might find we love his city too and that there are projects and needs we can work on together. (Yes that’s an olive branch).
I think we are very fortunate in this city. Look around, appreciate, enjoy. What you like about Delray didn’t happen by accident. What you don’t like won’t be solved by division. That’s the teachable moment.
Happy holidays!

In Praise of the Delray Chamber

Delray Chamber CEO Karen Granger

Delray Chamber CEO Karen Granger

Editor’s note: We are off to Las Vegas on business (really) and we’ll be back next week with some new posts. But if we don’t return, it’s because we won big at the tables (boardroom tables) and we have bought an island. Have a great week.

You could feel the enthusiasm as soon as you walked into the room.
These are good times for many local businesses and the Delray Chamber is once again at the forefront of commerce in this city.

A large crowd gathered Friday night at the Delray Marriott to honor its best and there was genuine happiness and appreciation for the talented business people in the room.
Under the leadership of President Karen Granger and the hard work of a happy staff, the Delray Chamber is back to doing what it does best: creating a sense of community among local businesses through networking, advocacy, programs and events.
Chambers of commerce can seem old fashioned in today’s high tech environment. But there is still a need for local businesses to know one another and to support each other. As a result, chambers still have an important role to play in communities.
Boca’s chamber has long been the gold standard of local chambers– flush with members and resources.
In Delray, the chamber has always been a little less corporate and more small town in its style and approach. But it seems today that the Delray chamber is both honoring the warmth of its past (the organization is marking 90 years) and moving boldly into the future with outreach to younger professionals and tech companies.
The Chamber is also recognizing and working closely with local non profits, has always sought a close relationship with the city,  and is championing collaboration, smart growth, intelligent debate and strong schools.
It’s a compelling mission.
And an important one too.
As Delray changes, there is a desire to honor and preserve its rich history which is critically important. But there is also a desire to “round out” Delray’s compelling list of attributes in order to make its success sustainable.
The chamber– which has always supported arts and culture and food and beverage– wants to grow and diversify the economy by nurturing entrepreneurship, encouraging a nascent fashion cluster, strengthening retail and promoting office development.

There is also a strong desire to look beyond the downtown to places like Congress Avenue, the Linton corridor and areas west of the city limits. There is also a push to work with neighbors and be a larger player in Palm Beach County and South Florida.
It’s going to happen. Why? Because there is passion and talent and when an organization aspires great things happen.
Great cities need strong schools, safe neighborhoods, quality housing, good government, involved citizens and a thriving business community.
Business is not a special interest. It’s a stakeholder; an essential piece.
As I saw the best and brightest win awards last week while mixing and mingling with each other I couldn’t help but get swept up in the moment. When business is strong, so is the community.
Our chamber deserves a round of applause for its role as a resource, convener, advocate and friend to all of Delray. We are a greater Delray Beach as a result.