Odds & Ends & A Delray Heroine Retires

Beautiful Quebec City

Beautiful Quebec City

In Praise of Quebec City and BVT

We’re back from a week of rest and relaxation in Quebec City and Burlington, Vermont.
Both are terrific cities.
Quebec City is magnifique–physically beautiful and very European in look, feel and scale.
While historic and oozing charm, Quebec City is also a dynamic and energetic place filled with street performers, artists, musicians, innovative food concepts and public art.
If you haven’t been, put it on your list. You will not be disappointed. You will be delighted.
Burlington is also a beautiful city with a rich history.
While its Vermont’s largest city, it’s smaller than Delray and Boca. Much smaller with just over 40,000 people.
Bernie Sanders got his political start in BVT becoming mayor with a 10 vote win back in the day.
When you drive into town after exiting a very scenic ride on Interstate 89 you run smack dab into the campus of the University of Vermont which is spectacular. Drive a few minutes and you come to the top of a hill overlooking picturesque Lake Champlain which serves as a backdrop to the city.
Burlington’s walkable downtown is charming and vibrant and features a pedestrian mall along Church Street, one of the few pedestrian malls that has worked (other examples are Lincoln Road and Charlottesville). It has one glaring flaw– not fatal mind you– but odd and that is an indoor mall anchored by a Macy’s. It doesn’t quite fit and seemed mostly dead while we were there. People preferred to be outside where like Quebec they enjoyed cafe dining, street musicians and the joy of just watching the world go by.
Burlington and surrounding cities –we visited Woodstock, Waterbury–(home of Ben & Jerry’s), Stowe, Shelburne, Queechee Gorge and Winooski–(known as Burlington’s Brooklyn) are teeming with incredible restaurants, creameries, cider mills, vineyards, distilleries and a slew of breweries. It’s beyond cool. And Lake Champlain—just wondrous.
It’s a sophisticated little place.
Relevant lessons for Delray and Boca: don’t design downtowns for cars, design for people. Both Quebec and Burlington favor the pedestrian and celebrate sidewalk dining, activity, festivals, pop up retail and localism. Local food, local beers, local wines, local artists, local farms, you get the picture.
Arts, culture, tourism are important economic drivers. They are celebrated.
The sense of place, history and the cool vibe is leveraged to create other industries. Burlington has a downtown incubator which was recently featured in the New York Times which is doing what it can to capture the entrepreneurial talent in the area and at UVM.
Breweries, distilleries and the local food scene are also encouraged with news articles, festivals, tastings and the like. We saw this in both Quebec and Burlington.
It’s really wonderful to have a university close to the heart of your city. It’s not only nice to see young people, but the college is a remarkable resource and source of intellectual energy.
Finally, both cities have a feeling of civic pride. They know they are special places, people seem proud of their cities and everyone you run into is eager to recommend sites, restaurants and things to do.
Civic pride is a killer app.
The Passionate Mayor
Over the weekend PBS ran a documentary about former NYC Mayor Ed Koch.
It was fascinating as was Mayor Koch. Alternately loved and despised, Koch was a larger than life figure and to a generation of New Yorkers he will always be the mayor.
He strived for relevancy and public engagement well into his mid 80s. It was both poignant and inspiring to see.
Love him or loathe him, one thing that was apparent was Koch’s love of his city. He reveled in New York.
That passion, that fire, I think is essential if you are going to be a mayor that matters.
If you don’t like people, loathe your downtown, use the office as a resting stop until you can get another seat or generally refuse to push, prod, coax, market or move your city forward you simple won’t succeed.
Short story about Koch.
I saw him once in Central Park and he was swamped by people. Many years later, I received a call to have breakfast with him at the Green Owl. It was 2004 and Koch–a lifelong Democrat who had never voted for a Republican– had jumped party lines to support George W. Bush over John Kerry in the presidential race. The campaign sent Koch to Florida and he was making the rounds. I declined the invite because I wasn’t interested in being a political prop, but I sure did wish there was a “no agenda” opportunity to meet Mayor Koch. It would have been fascinating.
Thanks Dr. Hunter
Last but most certainly not least we would like to wish a happy and healthy and productive retirement to Lynda Hunter who retired last week from the Delray Public Library.
Dr.  Hunter was the Children’s Librarian for forty years and positively impacted the lives of thousands of Delray Beach children through her love of reading.
A few of those kids were my very own.
Lynda and I worked closely together along with Janet Meeks and Lula Butler to create the Mayor’s Literacy Initiative which included everything from introducing books to summer camp programs to ice cream parties in our PJs.
Lynda was also there when we moved the library from US 1 to West Atlantic Avenue–which wasn’t without controversy but was the right thing to do. She helped to plan the new and vastly improved children’s section at the larger facility which bears her name along with philanthropist Virginia Kimmel who was so taken by Dr. Hunter’s passion that she felt compelled to get involved. Lynda is that kind of person. Inspirational.
Lynda’s heartfelt dedication to children and reading leaves a lasting legacy.
She sparked a love of books and reading on generations of young people who will surely pass it on to their children. That’s what the great ones do: they leave a legacy, they touch people and shape them, they leave us better for having met them on our journey.
Lynda is one of the  great ones. And lucky for us, she’s not done. She will continue to spread the love of reading which sees as an answer to what ails our society.
Thanks Lynda…what a legacy.

We couldn't find a picture of Lynda Hunter, but we found this from a reading event. Only she could get me to wear moose pjs...

We couldn’t find a picture of Lynda Hunter, but we found this from a reading event. Only she could get me to wear moose pjs…


Monday Odds & Ends: Mickey Mantle Edition

The Mick

The Mick

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to All

This weekend’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival in Delray seemed to go off without a hitch.

Congratulations to John Fischer and his team, FMG, the City of Delray Beach and others for continuing the tradition started by Maury Powers all those years ago.

Mickey Mantle Watch Donated to Library

A rare Mickey Mantle watch, signed and worn by the Yankee slugger, will now be on display at the Delray Beach Public Library thanks to a donation by local restaurant owner Fran Marincola, who has previously donated several other baseball memorabilia items to the library.

“What makes this watch special is that it’s part of a limited edition and it was one of only two actually worn by Mickey Mantle,” says Marincola, founder/partner of Caffè Luna Rosa in Delray Beach. “It has his picture on the face and it’s signed by Mantle on the back.”
The watch is the latest addition to the library’s baseball memorabilia collection, which includes autographed photographs, books and an original 1954 Mickey Mantle contract – all donated by Marincola.
“What’s different about this collection is that it’s fun, it’s unique and it adds value to our community library,” says Delray Beach Public Library Director Alan Kornblau. “It’s an extension of what we have in the library but in a less traditional form.”
“Housed on the library’s second floor not far from the top of the staircase, the collection has become a popular display, drawing visitors from throughout South Florida.

“This is a big part of Americana,” Kornblau said. “It brings back good feelings and brings out the kid in all of us.”

The contract, which shows that Mantle was paid $21,000 in 1954, is the crown jewel in the collection that also includes a framed replica of a couple of Life Magazine covers featuring the Yankee Hall of Fame member, as well as close to 20 autographed photos of players from years gone, such as Yogi Berra, Sandy Kofax, Warren Spahn and Carl Hubbell, a left-handed screwball pitcher with the New York Giants. There is also an autographed photo of Don Larsen, who pitched the sixth perfect game in baseball history in game five of the 1956 World Series.
“He autographed it on the day of his perfect game,” Marincola said
The collection also includes a rare book, The New York Yankees: An Illustrated History by Donald Honig, which includes 30 signed photos of Yankees, as well as other Hall of Fame players.

The bulk of the items on display, Marincola said, were sold to him at a discounted price by Delray Beach residents Jim and Jodi Murray who knew the memorabilia would be donated to the library.
Marincola said he decided to donate his personal collection of Yankee and baseball memorabilia to the library because he thought it was important to share the pieces of baseball history with other people who appreciate their significance.
“I figured, Why not let everyone enjoy these things?” he said.

Another weekend another event

Locals may want to prepare for this weekend’s Twilight Festival, March 22-23 in downtown Delray. The fest features bikes,  pro races, kids races, BMX etc. etc.

It’s a hoot. But it will also create some logistical issues this weekend. Here’s our guide to help you navigate.

The following road closures, paid parking facilities and modified trolley service will be in effect on Saturday, March 22, 2014, during the Delray Beach Twilight Festival: For complete information visit www.delraybeachtwilight.com

Road Closures

On Saturday, March 22nd, from 4:00 pm to 11:00 pm:

  • Atlantic Avenue will be closed from Swinton Avenue to Railroad Avenue
  • Railroad Avenue will be closed from Atlantic Avenue to NE 1st Street
  • NE 1st Street will be closed from Railroad Avenue to Swinton Avenue
  • Swinton Avenue will be closed from NE 1st Street to Atlantic Avenue
  • SE 2nd Avenue will be closed from Atlantic Avenue to the alleyway south of Atlantic Avenue
  • Vehicle crossings will be maintained on NE 1st Street at NE 1st & 2nd Avenues but may temporarily be closed during the races
  • Road closures will not be in effect on Friday, March 21st
NOTE:  Intersections on NE 1st Street at NE 1st Avenue and NE 2nd Avenue will be manned by police officers to allow access to the Old School Square Garage and businesses on NE 2nd Avenue.

Parking Facilities

On Saturday, March 22nd, paid parking ($5 per vehicle) will be in effect during the following hours:

– Old School Square Garage, 95 NE 1st Avenue, 12:00 pm (noon) – 12:00 am (midnight)

– Robert Federspiel Garage, 22 SE 1st Avenue, 10:00 am – 12:00 am (midnight)

– South County Courthouse Garage, 65 SW 2nd Avenue, 12:00 pm (noon) – 11:00 pm

– City Hall North Lot, 100 NW 1st Avenue, 12:00 pm (noon) – 10:00 pm

Parking attendants accept cash only, upon entry, and will monitor the parking facilities until the posted closing times.  

Downtown Roundabout Modified Trolley Service

On Saturday, March 22nd, the Downtown Roundabout will operate its regular weekend schedule (ROUTE 1, 8am-6pm; ROUTE 2, noon-11pm), providing free roundtrip service along Atlantic Avenue between the Tri-Rail Station on South Congress Avenue to Ocean Blvd/SR A1A.  While road closures are in effect, trolley service will detour to NE/SE 2nd Streets to bypass Atlantic Avenue in the core areas. Regular service will resume subsequent to roadways opening.  Please expect delays due to additional traffic generated by this event.