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Why This is a Great Place to Live
This is from Derek Dunn-Rankin's column in the Sun-Herald:
Last week, I offered a prize for the best reader submission on why this is a great place to live. One of the reasons it is a great place to live is great restaurants like The River City Grill in Punta Gorda, which supplied the prizes for this contest. The winner and each finalist will receive a gift certificate from River City Grill. The tuna was spectacular last week, in case any of our winners like that delicacy. Entries were edited slightly due to space constrictions.
Winner — Matt Felber, Charlotte
“My wife and I came to Charlotte County in 1998 and rented a condo for four months. We had spent the previous winters in Arizona, New Mexico, and on the Gulf coast of Texas, looking for paradise and a place to retire.
“Upon arriving in Charlotte County, we attended church on Sunday and were taken aback by the sign in the church, ‘All Are Welcome.’ We soon realized that it was not an idle sign, for we were truly welcome and the warmth of the place just overwhelmed us. Some days later, my wife and I looked at each other and we both said, “That’s what’s different about Charlotte County — not only is the church saying, ‘All Are Welcome,’ but all of Charlotte County is welcoming us to come here.
“The condo where we rented made special overtures to see that we fit in, assessing our needs, helping us and making suggestions. Although we were renters, they included us in all events. We visited the Cultural Center and found a similar experience; the same with restaurants, businesses, library, etc. Yes, all of these places made us feel welcome. It seemed they were just welcoming us, however, it was apparent that ‘All Are Welcome.’ We attended clubs and organizations of interest to us, and found the same prevailing overture, ‘All Are Welcome.’
“So our decision to retire in Charlotte County was not only because of lovely weather, the low cost of living, its affordable housing, its closeness to beautiful beaches, good restaurants, etc. Yes, these things were important, but we opted for Charlotte County because of a people that made us feel welcome and at home. We truly believe that ‘All Are Welcome’ should not only be the motto of our church, but the motto for Charlotte County should be ‘All Are Welcome.’”
Finalist — Kathy Genaw, Charlotte
“Well into the second week of November, I find myself enjoying Sunday brunch on the lanai of my Port Charlotte home and reading your newspaper. While much of our country has already turned colorless as the approach of winter strips the leaves from the trees, sends flowers into hiding and paints the sky gray, I look out at bougainvillea, plumbago and alamanda in bloom under an azure sky.
“A diverse assortment of birds fills the air and delights my ears with a medley of sounds to include chirps, songs and the flutter of wings. Perhaps that flock of Monk Parakeets will stop by for a bite at my feeders again today!
“Folks up north have already begun to shiver as they seal up their homes and crank up the furnaces. We, on the other hand, have thrown open our windows to welcome in the balmy breezes that gently rustle the palm fronds overhead. Northern boaters, sadly, have already committed to winter storage their fishing, sailing and cruising vessels as the temperature drops and the water gets hard. Not so here, where our waters warmly beckon boaters year-round, and the sunlight is dazzling on the surface of halcyon Charlotte Harbor!
“Before too long, our orange trees will provide us with delicious, fresh juice and, shortly after, with the most enchanting fragrance as they burst into bloom once again! Later today, I’ll sit here and, most likely, be amazed at yet another spectacular display in the sky to the west as the sun melts into the Gulf of Mexico, and another beautiful day in paradise, where the ‘ordinary’ is nothing short of ‘extraordinary,’ comes to a close.
“Yes, Mr. Dunn-Rankin, this is a great place to live, where it’s always a great time to buy!”
Finalist — Cel Price, North Port
“Why do we live in Paradise? Let me count the ways:
“No snow. No freezing temperatures — well, not much. Wonderful weather year-round. No steps to walk in my house. “Early bird specials. Living longer than if I were up North. Great neighbors.
“Quiet streets. No hills to drive. Knowledgeable doctors. Good hospitals.
“Reasonable housing. Even though we complain about taxes, they are cheaper than where I came from.
“(Sandhill) cranes walking down the street as though they owned it. Orange and grapefruit trees in the backyard.
“These are a few of many things I can’t get anywhere else. And I love it.”
Finalist — Anne J. Schaffer, Charlotte
“Here live the friendliest, most compassionate, loving, caring people from all over the U.S. and Canada. We are all family; we care about one another deeply.
“Whether we are having a potluck dinner, a wine and cheese party, a pizza party; playing euchre, bocce ball, poker, bridge, golf, tennis — we enjoy being with each other. We support one another and share our goals in making this the best place in the U.S. to live.
“Our condos are surrounded by huge oak trees, palm trees, flowering bushes, a canal and a pond. Our grounds are superb! It’s like living among nature’s best and most magnificent setting with all the perks.
“Walking distance to at least 90 stores, restaurants, credit union, grocery stores, banks, clothing stores, doctors, dentist, movie rentals, dollar store, bookstore, beauty shoppes, nail salons, flower shop and many, many more.
“This is Heaven, and/or Paradise — what more can you ask for in a lifetime? We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together.”
Finalist — Ruth Pettigrew, Charlotte
“Forty people can’t be wrong. Many, like ourselves, were members of the Rhode Island Yacht Club who moved to PGI or Port Charlotte and bought property. My husband was biased, saying Florida was flat and poor, until we rented a friend’s house in January 2002.
“After a boat ride on the Peace River, my husband was completely sold on the area and said, “Don’t tell Ruth, but I think we would like it here.” Of course, they had to tell me right away and within two weeks we had bought a mobile home in Port Charlotte.
“We are happy Snow Birds, enjoying every minute of the various activities offered every day. There really is something for everyone’s taste. The merchants, wait staff, librarians and volunteers are friendly and knowledgeable. The weather is fantastic. I plan to live a lot longer with a positive attitude — walking, biking, swimming and birding.
“Friends and relatives are still planning on moving here in the near future, buying property that they feel is a good bargain.”
Story from the Sun-Herald