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Monday, August 31, 2009

The Crystal Coast, a Protected Harbor

We live in amazing times. Life has changed a lot since I was a youngster wandering the fields and forests of Lewisville, NC, in the fifties and sixties. Those days were probably the golden days of youth. We wandered far and wide with few restrictions. 
Today it is rare that families can feel safe about their children, but I like to think that the Crystal Coast is about as safe a place for families as you can find these days. I was reminded of that when a young middle school teenager knocked on our door in Bluewater Cove this afternoon. She was selling chocolate bars to raise funds to replace cheerleading outfits at Broad Creek Middle School. Apparently a broken water pipe rendered their uniforms useless. 
I can remember going around our neighborhood as a child selling everything from first aid kits to peanuts. My own children did the same in our neighborhood in Roanoke, VA, as they were growing up. A few years ago I noticed that when the youngster came to the door, there was always a parent in the background. 
It was a sign of the times. Today's teenage visitor was by herself. It was reassuring to know that at least our gated community is deemed safe. I actually think that there are some characteristics of the Crystal Coast that are even more important than gates in keeping our children safe.
First and foremost this is a family oriented area. Many people care enough about their families to move to our area which is on a small enough human scale that people actually know each other. If you live here and frequent the same spots for a few months, people will remember you and even start to smile at you when you show up. It does not take long before you are part of the community of year around residents.

We are not a faceless society here on the Crystal Coast. Almost everyone who works in our businesses, schools, and hospitals lives here in the community. That is not the case in many larger areas. In metro areas it is not unusual for people to have to live many miles away from their jobs.

Another important characteristic is that we are community that likes to get together to play. We have so many festivals where we come together to renew friendships that it is easy to keep track of each others' families. Even if you move to another subdivision, you will likely run into someone at least a few times each year. Our festivals our legendary. The Swansboro Mullet Festival is coming up in October, then there will be Halloween at the Aquarium, and it will not be long before it is time for the old fashioned Christmas Parade in Emerald Isle or one of the holiday parades in the other towns.

Getting together also works on the subdivision level. Our homeowners association sponsors parties at Halloween, Christmas, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and this year we are having an end of summer fish fry. We even have a golf cart parade for the Fourth of July.

Then there are our second families, the churches of the area. Not only do they hold events for their congregations, but they also do events for the general community. We are days away from the Episcopal Lobster festivals. I believe the first one is usually at Saint Peters by the Sea in Swansboro, followed by the one at St. Francis by the Sea in Salter Path. Our church, Cape Carteret Presbyterian, just held an end of the season dinner and music program especially for visitors. We had great food, music, and fellowship.

Even the business people of the area get together and talk regularly. We recently had an event sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and a number of businesses at Cannonsgate. When you get together this often, it is inevitable that you end up recognizing people and talking to them.

There are other reasons the Crystal Coast is a relatively safe harbor in today's challenging world. We are a small town environment surrounded by lots of natural beauty. We have mostly people who have chosen to live here because they love the area. Often in making that decision they have given up making lots of money and chosen to be where they and their families can be happy.

People here on the Crystal Coast enjoy the out of doors, and nightlife is not such a big deal here. Sometimes turning in early at night because you are worn out from fishing, boating, swimming, kayaking, biking or walking the beaches is the best way to stay out of trouble.

One way or the other, it is nice to be anchored in one of those protected harbors.

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