An All-American Town

• November 5, 2012 • Uncategorized

As we gear up for election day tomorrow, I draw your attention to a fine article written by Miami Herald reporter, Marjie Lambert, about my home away from home, the town where I was married in the beautiful St. Agnes Episcopal Church, and a town I was privileged enough to call home for a year — Sebring, Florida, which is celebrating its 100th Anniversary this year. When I first moved to Florida, my family didn’t have the funds to buy a new home, so my wife and newborn son lived in Sebring in a house owned by my mother-in-law while I worked in the hussle and bussle of Miami three hours away. I would commute back home every weekend to see the family while working in a rented apartment near the office and I cannot tell you what a delight the people and environs of central Florida were.

While Sebring is most famous for its 12-hour raceway where racing’s most famous drivers from Mario Andretti to Carol Shelby to even Steve McQueen have raced — it really is so much more as Lambert so eloquently describes:

Most of the buildings on Sebring Circle were built in the early 1900s, and the area is a designated 1920s Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places. The Sebring Central Fire Station, built in 1927 in the Art Deco style, is still used as a firehouse. The Kenilworth Lodge, the hotel where I’m staying, about a half-mile from Sebring Circle, will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2016. The Sebring Historical Society sells collectible models of those and other buildings.

The Cultural Center is here, a complex that includes an art museum, library, theater for stage plays, and classrooms for art classes. In December, a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian will stop here: Journey Stories, which examines the intersection between modes of travel and Americans’ desire to feel free to move.

Along one of the spokes, just behind the Cultural Center, is Lake Jackson, with a small park on its shores and a municipal fishing pier.

Few people are on the pier on this hot but cloudy day. An angler has just hauled in a net sparkling with dozens of tiny silver bait fish that he dumps onto the wooden pier. Two adolescent girls, there with their parents, are excitedly skipping around the jumping bait fish, distressed that Mom and Dad are going to use them as bait. “But I looove them,” one of the girls protests.

Mom reels her line in. She has caught a nice-sized bass and says jubilantly, “I told you we were going to have fish for dinner tonight.” The girls are intimidated by the fish, jumping back as it flaps and twists its body in Mom’s hands. Mom tosses it in the bucket with the bait fish.

Fishing is a big draw in and around Sebring. The area has 84 lakes, Goad said, with Jackson, Josephine and Istokpoga the favorites for anglers, especially bass fishermen. Golf is an attraction, too — there are 20 courses within 16 miles of downtown Sebring.

To me, it’s the places like Sebring we most hold dear and protect in America because they represent the best of who we are — individualistic, truly diverse and different, not cookie cutter, but historic and connected to its roots. That’s what is at stake in this election. An America where small town values are embraced versus trickle down government, where all solutions come from Washington, D.C. — rather than from the beautiful Highlands County Courthouse, where Sebring is the county seat, where like Andy Griffith, the Sheriff knows best.

Enjoy a little of Sebring’s beauty in this Youtube video:

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