You get to hear and see me talk about how many wonderful things are happening in Winter Haven and why we have so many reasons to be positive. Part of the reason that I am so positive is because we have people like "The Information Man" a.k.a. Nat West, independently spreading the message of positivity to anyone that will listen. Besides being a "super-volunteer" for numerous organizations including the Chamber, Main Street, United Way, Winter Haven Public Education Partnership and many more, Nat has taken on the mantle of being the "Information Man" in downtown Winter Haven. You will often see him sitting at various areas in downtown during the 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. lunch rush playing an instrument (guitar, dulcimer and many others) and displaying a table of information. He does this because he wants to provide another outlet for people passing through our downtown to learn about this community he has dedicated his life to serving. So today, I share with you the Information Man's "Winter Haven on the Move" and the many reasons we have to "celebrate the good." Read more below and stop by and say hi to Nat when you are out and about.
Winter Haven on the Move by the "Information Man", Nat West
A variety of positive things are happening in Winter Haven as a result of the actions of many proactive people.
Downtown has never looked better. Shops are being renovated and new restaurants and other businesses are moving downtown. Main Street Winter Haven has a plethora of events for people to enjoy. The relatively new garage blends in beautifully and provides ample parking for everyone.
The Chamber of Commerce is vibrant with new ideas and involvement. It is particularly nice to see the young people more engaged and making a difference.
The Public Education Partnership (PEP) composes of volunteers seeking to help our public schools and the students, has been instrumental in Winter Haven High School getting the Cambridge International School, an advanced curriculum model known for excellence World Wide. PEP sees that many students are being tutored after school at the PEP Education Center, and community members volunteers are assisting with this program. PEP initiated the Career Connection program. High school students identify careers they are interested in and over 250 people in the community, doing that career, have volunteered to meet with them to share their real life experiences and the requirements for such a career. Over 200 students have taken advantage of this opportunity, Recently PEP has assured all elementary and middle schools have Little Free Libraries, giving children easy access to free books all year long.
Our exceptional Library, with its remarkable Friends of the Library volunteers , is the centerpiece of downtown It is a quality symbol that education and reading are important to us.
LEGOLAND has not only been hugely successful, but has added a spectacular new hotel. We all share with pride that it is the only one of its kind in the World. Merlin Entertainment, parent company of LEGOLAND, is expanding its North American and Global Support operations in downtown Winter Haven.
The city staff have for years focused on a healthy community providing parks and trails and getting maximum usage out of the Northeast and Southwest complexes. The national trend to provide trails for exercise is happening here. The new Lake Howard Trail and the Chain of Lakes Trails reinforce that healthy lifestyles are important here.
Our Wellness Centers have provided volunteer trainers for the first Saturday Family Fun and Fitness at the Fountain events in Central Park (Sept -May). In 2015-16, it is being moved to the fourth Saturday to coincides with the Market Day downtown.
In a addition to the every Thursday Fresh Market, providing numerous fruits and vegetables in the Joyce Davis park downtown,, we now have a Market Day on the second and fourth Saturday morning for community members to enjoy.
Chat and Chew, a group of people looking at and acting upon research on food and its importance, meets monthly. More and more people are attending these terrific sessions and the group is currently looking into “Blue Zones,” and the applicability for Winter Haven.
As far as we are aware, Winter Haven is the only city in the state of Florida offering free music every Friday night downtown.(Sept - May) First Friday is the Pickin’ in the Park sing along, 2nd Friday -Praise in the Park, local praise bands, 3rd Friday, Dulcimer Night, 4th Friday, Join the Jug Band.
Main Street leaders are working with other community folks to resurrect the Derry Down. Once it has been renovated, the musical venue will be available primarily for young people, but many others will be performing in this great new location. The Derry Down will also be a wonderful new location for dancing (square dances, contra dances, line dancing, ballroom, etc. ) And it is right downtown with so many other new downtown opportunities.
For years, Theatre Winter Haven has been recognized as one of the best, if not the best, community theater in the state. It is, and has always been, a community treasure.
We’ve thought about maximizing lake usage and the wonderful Chain Life initiatives, including the spectacular Flotilla, have brought new life to the many opportunities that abound regarding our treasured lakes.
For many years we have talked about the possibility of restaurants on our beautiful lakes and we are fortunate that restauranteurs have heard the call. Now we have several newly renovated terrific restaurants on our lakes.
We celebrate all that is good. If any of these initiatives spark your interest , join us by getting involved.