The theme of this year’s Pioneer Days Parade is “Living the Dream.” If you’re relatively new to Englewood, you probably realized you were living the dream sometime in, oh say, November or December. Maybe you were watching the sunset in shorts and a T-shirt on Englewood Beach, or driving with the top down. Meanwhile, your friends and family up north were scraping ice off windshields, zipping up parkas and parallel parking in a puddle of slush.
“Living by the Canadian border wasn’t the dream,” said Mark Rennie, one of this year’s Mayor for a Day candidates. “The weather, the water, people, restaurants and hometown community, that’s the dream.”
Imagine growing up in Englewood minutes from the beach, the sun shining nearly all year, paradise literally in your backyard. Would you know you were living a dream?
Carol Delagarza grew up in Englewood in the 1950’s and said she was at the beach almost every single weekend. “We had the biggest barbecues with so many families of that era. I don’t think as a child I really appreciated the beauty of the beach, so many sea oats everywhere and sandspurs and gorgeous sunsets and the Lock and Key beach bar,” said Delagarza. “I wish I could go back to that time and place, it was like living a dream.”
Ruth Brady Bacon remembers driving around in an old pink jeep called “The Pink Fink” she bought from Bud Adjoran. “We would run it up and down the beach by the water! Every once in a while it would get stuck but everyone would just jump out and pick it up and we’d be on our way again.” Brian Faro also recalls driving around open land in off-road vehicles. “I miss the fun we used to have out there,” he said.
Cindy Domiano said she was living the dream hanging out, dancing and listening to music at Bob’s Baithouse on Sundays in the 80s. “It was so great back then,” she said. Sandy Carter Supank’s dream was waterskiing, bonfires at Middle Beach and “Styx” playing on an eight track.
Kathy Shanley also recalled living at the beach in her early 20s, catching snook off the seawall behind the old Leisure Inn with her brother Jim (Bradley) and swimming in the Gulf at night. Living the dream for Donna Harrison meant sitting under the palm trees watching “Crazy Carol” perform in front of the old Lock and Key. The beach, the Englewood Recreation Center and Anthony’s Lounge were Thomas Mages’ dream spots. Jennie Franklin Phillips, who has lived here more than 50 years, added the White Elephant to that list.
Pioneer Days Board member Jeannie Joyce and her husband Jeff came to Englewood in 1982 for their honeymoon. Even though their cabin at Pelican shores had no air conditioning and twin beds and there was red tide, she said “I was living the dream, with the love of my life, and here we are 37 years later.”
Of course, for many, there’s a degree of wistfulness when recalling the dream days of Englewood. “I actually didn’t realize how lucky I was when I moved here back in 1994,” said Mary Bieganski. I’ve lived in Florida since 1986, moved from Bradenton to Englewood in ‘94. I look back now and so wish I could hold time in the 90s” she said.
Mary Bieganski moved to Englewood in 1994 and said that decade also holds special memories for her too. “I look back now and wish I could time in the 90s,” she said. I wish I appreciated it then.”
Peggy Moorman grew up in Englewood in the 1970s and moved away to raise her family. Moorman moved back just this summer after her husband passed away to be closer to her family and old friends. “You can come home again,” she said.
“I believe I was living the dream after moving here as a child in the early 70’s,” said Lynn Eckerson Kromer. “I didn’t realize then I was living the dream. I feel I am lucky. I was able to enjoy Englewood then and now, just now it is different, but it still is a great place to live.”