There are many activities I enjoy pursuing in The Villages, but one of my favorite things is knowing any night of the year (weather permitting) I can go to one of the three town squares and listen to live entertainment, dance or simply people watch.
One particular evening I was watching people at Brownwood enjoy a few hours of live music on the square. Ironically enough, that’s when I found myself reminiscing about the small Vermont town I lived in before moving to Florida – a town that was only 10 miles from the Canadian border and whose local economy was primarily dependent on farming and logging.
Many might ask, ‘What in the world does an evening on the square in The Villages and the small farming community of Bakersfield, Vermont have in common?’ A reasonable question I’ll attempt to answer.
Live entertainment certainly isn’t a frequent event in Bakersfield; that is unless you define nightly entertainment as watching a herd of dairy cows being brought in from the pasture for milking. Nor would you consider nightly entertainment sitting on the front stoop of the general store chewing the fat with locals as they stop in to get a loaf of bread on their way home from work. But it’s when I look back at those wonderfully, slow-paced, small town memories of Labor Day celebrations, dances organized to raise money for a needy neighbor, or 4th of July town barbeques, that I sense all too clearly the similarities between The Villages and Bakersfield.
Regardless of geography, political leanings, ethnic backgrounds or economic health, I realized it was the heart and soul of the people who live, work or play in both towns that rang a bell of empathy between the two. It was their sense of community, their multi-generational representation and their strong feelings of acceptance and affinity for their neighbors that tugged at my heart.
That evening at Brownwood I watched as both Villagers and other local community residents came together to enjoy an evening of music, dance and socializing.
Sumter County resident Chris Jones held his two small children, Joe and Lauren, in his arms as he slowly danced them around the square. New Jersey residents, Donna and Kevin Harris, who were visiting family in Leesburg, proudly watched with other family members as their two young children, 12-year-old Matthew, and 11-year-old Alexandra, danced so well together, total strangers were pointing them out to friends
Village of Hillcrest resident Jean Arbuckle decided it was cool enough that evening to bring her little Maltese, Brie, to the square. Seeing a fellow dog owner nearby, she struck up a conversation with Forrest Wod, who also decided to bring his dog to the square that evening – a rescued Doberman named Mia.
Members of a Villages group called the Singles Baby Boomer Club were gathered near the bleachers enjoying the music and each other’s company.
Were there multi-generations represented that evening on the square, much like I’d find back at most Bakersfield small town events? Was there a sense of community and a sense of acceptance that transcended economic background, ethnicity and geography? In that moment in time, did a diverse group of people come together to enjoy the music, the beautiful evening and as a natural by-product, each other?
I say a resounding yes! That evening was one I’ll not soon forget and it was because of the wonderful people I observed that evening and the important life lessons they taught me, simply by being themselves.
PHOTOS: Pat Jocelyn + Shutterstock.com