Thanks for coming along with me to Europe this spring here on my blog and over on Facebook. The second half of my “100 Days in Europe” series will kick off with a Best of Ireland in 14 Days Tour — followed by Scotland, England, Alsace, the Black Forest, and the great Swiss cities. But first, I’m home in Edmonds, Washington, for a week, just in time to receive a wonderful award: I’ve been named “Edmonds Citizen of the Year” by the Kiwanis Club.
I am so honored to receive this award from my hometown. And it just occurred to me, this is the 50th year I’ve called Edmonds home.
I still remember the day, in 1967, when my parents moved our family from Kenmore to Edmonds. At first, they said the house cost too much and we couldn’t afford the move. But after a united chorus of pleading from our family, they relented. Even as a 12-year-old, it was clear to me: Edmonds was well worth the investment.
Looking back 50 years now — through junior high days as an Edmonds Trojan to high school days as an Edmonds Tiger; after living on Brookmere Drive, Frederick Place, Wharf Street, and now Edmonds Street; after working at four different addresses on 4th Avenue North; and after raising our two kids here — I’m thankful to have called Edmonds home over all these years.
Of course, I’ve spent a lot of time away from Edmonds — four months a year since my college days, working in Europe. And for all those years, the happiest day is that day, after a long trip, when I drive down 5th Avenue into Edmonds and back home. I’ve seen a lot of the world, and all that experience affirms my appreciation of this town.
As a kid — playing flag football at Hummingbird Park, going to the coin club in the basement of the National Bank of Commerce (now Bank of America), going to Boy Scouts (Troop 316 in the basement of the Methodist church), and working for Edmonds Parks and Rec (the only time I wasn’t self-employed) — being a part of Edmonds was a one-way thing. It was just my town. Giving back or contributing to make it better didn’t even occur to me.
But with travel, parenting, and political activism, a person gains a more mature and thoughtful appreciation that a great hometown doesn’t just happen. It takes a village: people spending endless hours in meetings; dedicated people caring for dimensions of our town that most wouldn’t notice until those jobs are neglected; people raising, contributing, and spending hard-earned money to keep us safe and tidy and thriving; and teachers, police, city servants, volunteers, and more — all working in concert to make Edmonds a wonderful place to raise our families as well as a great place to enjoy our golden years.
I’ve been privileged to know landlords, teachers, mayors, pastors, arts leaders, and fellow business leaders — all Edmonds citizens — who have inspired me over the years. They’ve taught me, through their commitment to our community, that if we recognize we all make a difference and are needed to keep Edmonds the kind of town we are so thankful for, it will stay that way…and get even better. Because of these people, because I’m fortunate to have found my niche (teaching travel), and because I live in a society where I can work hard at something I believe in (with a team of talented and passionate co-workers to build a successful business), I’m thankful to be able to help shape and support Edmonds. Among so many good and caring citizens, I’m humbled to be recognized for my contributions.
This ceremonial brick represents a permanent commemorative paving stone that will be added to the Edmonds Historical Museum‘s patio. Photo: Larry Vogel/MyEdmondsNews.com
It’s fun to think back over five decades of calling Edmonds home. From its quirky bars to the adorably eccentric characters who walk its downtown streets; from the way caring people yell at you when you walk the tracks, to the challenge of finding just the right fountain to grace our main intersection; from the way we squinch at change but then warm up to it, to the way we pack the streets after dark on Halloween (I believe the only event I’ve attended 30 years in a row) — I’m proud of Edmonds and am thankful to share it with so many wonderful neighbors.