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December 17, 2021

Community Members, 

As we head into this busy, crazy, wonderful time of holidays and quickly approaching New Year, it’s good to reflect. To pause, look back, and evaluate where we’ve come from, so that we can look again to the future with fresh eyes. Too often it is easiest to keep our nose to the grindstone and plod ahead without realizing where we are heading.

What has this past year brought us? Certainly, it has felt like a yo-yo year. It started in the darkest moments of the pandemic, then bounced forward with the wonderful promise of a vaccine available to all – and hope that we could return to normal and abandon our masks for good. I remember how we briefly took off our masks at City Hall and got ready to open our doors…only to be pulled back by a new surge of Covid-19 that caused masks to reappear and the decision to open our doors back up to be delayed. Hope dimmed, then brightened as the number of cases dropped dramatically. YEA! We would finally get beyond this! Then Delta, then Omicron, and now we are back up in the air, and for many gatherings the masks are back on. I’m not sure if the yo-yo feeling is dizziness, or whiplash, but it hasn’t been all that pleasant! I’m sure you also wish the up and down, back and forth movements brought on by this pandemic would end once and for all.

I believe that for the foreseeable future we are looking at the new normal. We are learning to ride the waves and adjust. Our community is finding new ways to connect, support, and be neighbors to one another. 

Change is not easy under the best of circumstances. It can be close to unbearable when it involves life and death, and certainly a strain on the mental health of us all. It is also true that such times afford us opportunities for growth that are, quite frankly, unavailable to us when sailing is smooth; when we are not challenged. Growth is good. And, I truly value such opportunities. But even when I know it is good for me, a part of me still wants to say, “Enough growth, already! Turn off the spigot!”

But, even when I am worn out and worn down by this pandemic, as I look back on this past year, I can’t help but feel a deep sense of gratitude as well. Gratitude for the health I take for granted far too often. Gratitude for a community rich in its caring, its involvement, its commitment to the good of the whole. Gratitude for new ways of doing things, for new options, for new opportunities. Gratitude for a City and a Chamber who have forged new ways of working collaboratively and in support of one another. Gratitude that we have been able to try a pedestrian mall in the downtown core and celebrate Christmas without the “flip of the switch” (a tradition that had vastly outgrown our ability to keep the experience magical). Gratitude that we can talk about how we can have a sustainable tourism economy without being anti-tourism. Gratitude for community members and business owners willing to bring their voice, and their compromise, to the table as we find our way forward as a community.

I hope you will, in this season of newness and promise, allow yourself the time to pause, reflect, give thanks, and look forward with a fresh view of a bright future!  Joy to you all as we move forward together!

Carl J. Florea, Mayor

[email protected]

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