A recurring question I’ve heard over the years has been: “Why can’t we be like <insert city name here>?” The most common comparisons have been Dunedin and Dade City, both known for their quaint shopping districts.
My response has been that I want New Port Richey to be an authentic original, not a carbon copy of some other city. I would know that we have succeeded when folks in these other cities start wishing they could be more like New Port Richey.
We’ve made quite a bit of progress over the past few years. We’ve been filling up the empty storefronts downtown, most recently with Wright’s Natural Market in the old IGA Foodliner building and Kazu’s Sushi in the old Estella’s location.
A group of downtown businesses got together and threw a pair of Halloween events, one for adults Saturday night (October 27th) after the Forever Styx concert in the park and then one for kids the following Wednesday evening, on Halloween proper.
The Saturday night event, called NPR after Dark, was well attended and we even had a live remote from one of the local radio stations. Things picked up as folks left the park at the end of the concert and walked downtown.
The Halloween Trick or Treat event for the kids started at 5:30pm and quickly became much larger than anyone had expected. The NPR Police Department came down to hand out flags to the kids. They had to call in reinforcements to handle traffic control at Main & Grand. The Police Department handed out some 2100 flags during the night.
Since my business, Gulfcoast Networking, is a bit out of the way, I set up a table outside of People Places with double the amount of candy I’d originally planned on buying. I still ran out before 7pm. Several businesses made repeated candy runs to restock and at least two businesses, Scott McPherson and Ottaway’s Ice Cream, spent several hundred dollars each on candy.
To say that Trick or Treating downtown was a success is an understatement. The business owners group hasn’t had a formal recap meeting yet, but there are clearly two take-aways from Halloween: We need to arrange to have the streets closed and we all need to buy a LOT more candy next year.
This past Sunday we had our second annual Veterans Day Parade. With all the vets living in the area, I’m not quite sure why this hasn’t been an annual event forever. The parade was part of the the 2018 Veterans Day Freedom Fest that was organized by Veterans Alternative. Freedom Fest was well done and well attended.
I had a men’s group meeting at church Sunday evening, so I walked over to Christiano’s Pizza to get a pizza for the meeting. While I was there, a couple approached me, pointed at my city shirt and asked: “Are you really the mayor?” After I confirmed that I was indeed the mayor, they proceeded to tell me how great it was that we have a Veterans Day Parade, how nice New Port Richey is, and how happy they are that they recently moved here from Dunedin…
Needless to say, the couple made my day.
So back to my original question: “Are we there yet?” Maybe not, but we are certainly getting closer by the day.
Thank you to everyone who is working to make New Port Richey a great place to live, work, and play.
Rob Marlowe, Mayor