Love, Delray

Dear Delray,

 

This year, you will celebrate your 108th birthday.

What a milestone for you and citizens like me who love you so much.  So often people talk about you and focus on your challenges and problems—political division, crime, drugs, parking issues etc.

But, you can’t let the naysayers get you down – you’re still the precious gem that your founders saw all those years ago.

Sure, I know you have some blemishes after all this time, but I also know about your boundless potential.

I’ve always known about your boundless potential.

Last week, on Valentine’s Day, the National League of Cities sent out a series of love letters like the one above from mayors, city council members and others to their cities. I read beautiful notes to places like Portland, Maine, Lexington, Kentucky and Ames, Iowa and I thought they were heartfelt and wonderful.

None of the love letters glossed over problems—they mentioned crime, vacant buildings, heroin overdoses, homelessness and inequality but they also found so much to love about their hometowns.

Which is a good thing, because far too often, we are fussy and overly critical about where we live.

Recently, I ran into an urban planner who consults in cities all over the country. He made it a point to tell me how he thought Delray was “so hard on itself.” And I agreed.

At a recent, Urban Land Institute meeting, Delray was mentioned as a role model for other cities in South Florida. Not that cities want to be Delray, just that they admire who we are and where we’ve come from. It was good to hear this, but I have to be honest, my first thought was “well, they ought to talk to the people who live here because wow are they critical.”

But you know what?

I was wrong.

Most people who live here do love Delray, they just get drowned out sometimes by some of the…ahem… loud voices who tend to tilt a little toward the negative.

If you didn’t know better (and we do) and if your view of Delray was limited to social media here’s what you’d find. This is a sampling from a two minute cruise down the rabbit hole last week. Excuse the syntax…

“What happened to this beautiful Village By The Sea charm?! It’s a large metropolitan greed city!”

“Traffic is getting worse every day at some point I will not go to in town Delray !!”

“The only reason for me to go to downtown Delray is the Elks Lodge and the bank.”

It is so tempting to respond….but it really wouldn’t make much of a difference.

Right after my 2-minute dive into the negative— as if through some divine intervention –I got a notice through “Next Door” about a group called Love Delray.

Love Delray is a quarterly volunteer initiative that seeks to unite our community through collaboration and service. Here’s a link https://lovedelray.com/

The group meets and fans out to serve local non-profits such as the Delray Children’s Garden or CityHouse Delray. Sometimes they’ll just go and clean the beach. Isn’t that cool?

My strong hunch is that there are more lovers than complainers in Delray Beach.

As for the critics, the Elks Lodge is amazing but there’s some pretty good restaurants and shops too. Nobody likes traffic, but it beats the alternative which is a place that’s dead and buried and there’s plenty of charm if you would just open your eyes….how many cities have an Elvis impersonator, a professional tennis event and a really great Wine and Seafood Festival?

Answer: not many.

Last week, I took a left turn and within a few minutes I was sitting in the Crest Theatre listening to John Lennon’s sister introduce a truly amazing Beatles tribute band. People were dancing in the aisles…and the list goes on and on. Last night, I sat and watched the fourth best tennis player in the world and a rising American star play beautifully.

Sorry I couldn’t help myself. I answered the naysayers.

So Dear Delray, stay positive. You are a pretty cool little city. And we love you.

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Sweet. Great article

  2. Michael Wisniewski says:

    Thank you – Love Delray is awesome, we attended last Saturday to volunteer, 150 plus people maybe, going into our great community and giving back. We’re looking forward to the next Love Delray Event…

  3. Robin deLisser says:

    This is adorable, thanks for the sweet perspective!

  4. Amen and Amen!

    Love this place!! I suppose we can always find something to criticize or gripe about – in fact that is part of our charm… we love this place so much lots of folks have opinions about what it should be… but without doubt… Delray is unique and loveable.

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