Why We Stay

While Justin and Monique kept things flowing over the long weekend, I took some time with my family and my folks (down from New Hampshire) to take in some Ocean State sights. Well, mostly. First, I had some soccer duties to attend to on Saturday morning–hey, it was uniform day!
We went to Waterfire on Saturday night. It was a perfect Rhode Island night. Not too hot or humid, just the hint of a fresh breeze in the air. The normal lighting ceremony was accentuated by torch-lighting for those who would be accompanying the various opera singers who would be “spot singing” throughout the evening. The usual tourists were around as were quite a few college kids. (I wonder how many “regular Rhode Islanders” attend Waterfire?) My daughters liked it all–they always do!–and made sure we saw the Lady and the Gargoyles so that they could get their fortune. Add in some Del’s and it was a perfect night for all.
On Sunday, we continued our tradition of attending Newport’s Last Day of Summer party at Easton’s (1st) Beach. In addition to the great food and carousel–and beautiful beach–there was a waterslide and some other activities for the kids, including a sand castle contest, sidewalk chalk contest, pie-eating contest…you get the picture. The kids had a blast (no sand castle prize this year, but last year they got a 2nd in the Kids Division and a 3rd for “Best use of only beach materials” for their volcano “erupting” with red seaweed). The day was punctuated by a stroll on the cliff walk. Again, another great one.
My point? This was truly a “Chamber of Commerce” weekend here in Rhode Island. And that’s one of the reasons we love it here. Of all of the New England states, Rhody is truly unique with its relatively temperate climate, protected Narragansett Bay and, as Dan Yorke would say, the water. Throw in its proximity to Boston and New York and all of the history…just a great spot.
Over the years, I’ve often read or heard people who protect the political and economic status quo counter those of us looking for change with, “Well, if it’s so bad, why don’t you just leave.” This past weekend was a good example of why we stay. But it’s only part of it. Since taking a job down here, my wife and I have had two beautiful daughters who have grown up here. We are active in the community and school and have made many dear friends. We’ve put down roots–this is home, even if we weren’t born here. We’ve invested ourselves and our time in this place. We want to make it better for the future and do what we can. Is it quixotic? Perhaps. But we think it’s a challenge worth taking and we owe it to our kids to keep at it.
ADDENDUM: To that end….my parents have E-Z Pass in New Hampshire and used it to get across the Newport Bridge. My Dad noted that one of the benefits of E-Z Pass is that you’re supposed to be able to, you know, pass easily through the toll both and continue on your way. Not in Rhode Island, though. Even the E-Z Pass lanes on the Newport Bridge have a gate that comes down and stops you until the pass is read. With the tolls going up as of today, that might be something worth addressing.

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George
George
11 years ago

We were seriously going to leave a few months back. But we decided to stay. But I’m not staying without a fight. A big one!
All that you describe Mark, are the reasons many of us chose to stay. But we will lose it all, and may be even forced out, if we don’t fight to save our beautiful state.
We also need to seek leaders who are truly interested in fixing – seriously structurally fixing – the state. Not just applying little patches here and there and hoping no-one notices they’re not really addressing the big problem. We need leaders who are going to take on the $1.2 BILLION problem, and not treat us like fools with 70 million dollar smoke and mirror schemes.

George
George
11 years ago

Marc, sorry about the mis-spelling of your name. I know it’s Marc. Just typing too fast

Marc
Marc
11 years ago

No problem George, happens all the time. You should see what happens to my last name….

Ken
Ken
11 years ago

Marc, I use to feel the same about Rhode Island as you do until I started to age. You know that thing all of us do Being born and raised in RI I had the good fortune to be raised in a family that loved to explore on those Saturday and Sunday drives and to visit Crescent Park, Rocky Point, Jolly Cholly’s in Attleboro, MA and Lincoln Park Amusement Park Dartmouth, MA, lived on fried clams at Pink Elephant, Seekonk, MA, demolition derby at Seekonk Speedway, extended family outings at Goddard Park and Lincoln Woods. Weekend nights were also for attending latest movies at the drive inns on hot summer bights. I’ve lived on College Hill, East Providence and Federal Hill growing up in RI. I watched RI grow, fall apart when the Navy North Atlantic Fleet left and rebirth as a tourist destination while the costume jewelry industry and mills mover to the south. As a member of the first class of Rhode Island Junior College I designed the college rings, attended Providence College, worked as a ski instructor in North Conway, NH while attending college. Volunteered for active duty military service and volunteered two years in Viet Nam during major Tet Offensives. Returning to RI I met my future wife who lived in Newport and uncle was mayor of Newport (R), my family was involved in federal, state government so we married combining the families and moved to Woonsocket, RI because I worked in MA and she in RI. During the 35 years of marriage we traveled a lot and also camped throughout New England and other states The older we got the more we started comparing RI to other states. Hawaii was a state and people that was just totally different from anything we experienced in all… Read more »

Marc
Marc
11 years ago

Ken, Thanks for sharing (sincerely). I’m also sorry for the passing of you wife, but I’m glad she got her wish! I’ve been to Hawaii a few times–all for work. I did a couple trips on a sugar boat between various islands and San Francisco when I was in the Merchant Marine and also visited once (maybe twice?) for my current job (again, related to the shipping industry). It’s a beautiful place. I especially like the view from atop Diamond Head.

Ken
Ken
11 years ago

Marc, Visiting Hawaii while on business is a lot different than vacation visiting but I’m glad you appreciate what you’ve seen and experienced so far of my new adopted state. Hawaii is like no other place in the world and that’s why people call it “paradise”. It’s the most isolated population center in the world so sustainability is always in the back of your mine. Things that are taken for granted on the mainland are paid attention to in Hawaii. Life is a lot simpler and laid back in the islands. If you have not been here in a while, Christmas and New Years season is the one of the best times to be in Waikiki Beach. Santa does arrive in an outrigger canoe passing out gifts to children on the beach. Everyplace is decorated with live Christmas trees and greenery. There are parades almost every day with up to 2,000 marchers and floats starting day after Thanksgiving, pageants, plays and concerts. The Sheraton Hawaii Bowl is an exercise in eating tailgating food. New Years is a fireworks spectacular as fireworks are legal in Hawaii. Yes, a city block in downtown Honolulu suddenly has real snow covering it so children and adults can play in snow. Of course the cold Hawaii winter 76-80 degree sunny daytime weather helps along with 78-80 degree water. Anytime or month is a good time to visit Hawaii especially now with vacation deals on airfare and hotel that rival 1970 pricing. Some times of the year more events are going on but rest assured the City Council of Honolulu has only limited parades to 40 a year (high was 60 a year) through Waikiki Beach with associated block parties. Of all the U.S. vacation destination Hawaii had the highest hotel bookings at 70% occupancy during… Read more »

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