I Know What You Did This Summer

Mark Trowbridge

Most of us relish taking our long-awaited summer vacation every June through August. In a way, we view it as a God-given right for those of us who work hard all year for our overly expectant bosses.

Time spent with family and friends visiting places we may have only dreamed about is a great American tradition.  We research, plan and prepare for its arrival most of the winter and spring months in anticipation of some time away from the fray.

Then, we take endless photos, enter thousands of well-curated posts into Facebook and Instagram and do our level best to make our followers jealous.  But we also know that vacations can be thoroughly exhausting and not always family friendly.

Trowbridge-family vacations growing up were usually designed around a visit to some distant relative who would provide us shelter for free.  Then, it would be day trips to see things like the world’s largest Prairie Dog.  Sure, we went to Toronto one summer and then visited Niagara Falls (viewed from the Canadian side); but all I remember is cramming four of us into one hotel room and my parents deciding to “revisit” their wedding night once they thought my sister and I had drifted off to sleep.  Not so fast, Mom and Dad!

This summer will likely be a giant dud for the vacation loving set as many may not be ready for long-haul trips even though our airline partners have been working hard to prepare their birds to fly.  Hotels are just going to begin their phase-in process in early June and while ready for visitors, may not be everyone’s first choice for a vacation.

So, as summer arrives, why not plan a staycation, engage in some retail therapy, head out and eat your feelings, all while taking care of the home team?

Buying local is going to be the key to recovery in this devastated economy.  It is the best antidote to our re-opening marketplace.  Whether it be shopping in our local retail stores (or showing your support via their on-line portal), engaging in some self-care or just re-stocking the summer wardrobe (everyone could use a new bathing suit at this point as we all know the old one is a tad snug thanks to quarantine), we have everything you might need right here at home.

Restaurants are begging for your business and return to eating out and have been preparing for in-house diners for nearly three months.  If you are not ready to do that, then feel free to sit outside and pretend you are in London or Paris or Buenos Aires.  I promise you, our amazing restaurants have taken every possible precaution to make your visit safe, deliciously and enjoyable.

And of course, our hotels are in the most dire need.  Many have been shuttered for months and their desire to be “at your service” means more than just ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.  It means planning a staycation right here in the Gables.  Re-discover our City Beautiful while venturing just down the street.  We are indeed open and ready to get back to business, even if it is not as usual.

I am gong to take a trip this summer around Florida, starting in Key Largo and heading North to Amelia Island.  Then it is across the top of the state via Chipley to Pensacola, our most western reaches of the panhandle.  Then, I will traverse the Gulf Coast via Panama City to Wakulla Springs, heading South through the Big Bend of Florida down to Cedar Key, St. Petersburg and Marco Island.  Every one of these stops is meant to stimulate our visitor economy, explore our beautiful and diverse state, all while supporting the home team…Florida.

Finally, as of June 1, our Chamber and community partners begin our Summer Lovin’ promotion that will last fourteen weeks through this summer, culminating on Labor Day.  Each week, we will focus on a retail sector (book stores, men’s grooming and women’s salons, home goods and clothing stores, to name a few), as well as our restaurants, Miami Spice, July 4th, Labor Day, Back-to-School and more.  Stay tuned for more on this exciting initiative as we show some love for our local businesses.

As always, it is our goal to assist those who have long supported us here in the Gables.  So, please head on out, buy local, dine local and let’s save our small businesses together!

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