I recently took a walk around our downtown waterfront and was immensely enjoying the redevelopment that has been a recent addition to our city. As I was sharing this with my dear friend, Angie Guzman who works at the new downtown Sheraton Hotel, we both agreed that we loved living in Stockton and that it seemed very few people shared this sentiment. I told her that someday I was going to blog about our city in hopes of motivating others who live here to perhaps have an attitude change.
Well just this past Sunday, the editor of the Stockton Record, Mike Klocke wrote an editorial on Stockton’s “low self image” and gave the residents of our city an assignment to write him three things we liked about Stockton and one thing we would change. That is all the motivation I needed to write this blog that was brewing in the back of my mind. Yes, I am well aware that Stockton is currently number one in the nation for foreclosures and illiteracy and that crime is a huge issue here but despite these things I see and choose to dwell on the multitude of wonderful attributes about our area. I hope if you live in Stockton it will bless you, give you hope and inspiration and perhaps motivate you to make your own list of what you love about living here. But no matter where you live take the time today to remember all that you love about your city. There truly is “No place like home!”
- I love the weather. As a military kid who moved twelve times during my first eighteen years of life (before coming to Stockton, California as a freshman to attend UOP) I have lived in places where the hot summer humidity was so bad you immediately were dripping wet with sweat anytime you ventured outdoors even a 9 o’clock in the evening! (not too mention fighting larger than life bugs that come with humid climates) And I have stood at bus stops waiting for a school bus where the wind whipped through your heavy winter coat and chilled your bones, while the moisture actually froze solid inside your nostrils. I will take our few 100 plus degree dry heat summer days that almost always melt away into amazing cool and comfortable evenings and the just barely freezing temperatures we rarely experience over the extreme weather found in most areas of the world. I also love that we live in a city that truly does have four seasons! (rare for California) The spring is full of the many large shade trees that abound in Stockton year round along with a myriad of foliage and beautiful, colorful flowers that continue blooming for months on end. The warm (Ok, sometimes HOT!) water enticing, ice cream devouring, lemonade drinking summers bring us a plethora of the most delicious locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables sold on the roadside and at many farmers markets throughout the city. The fall colors are more spectacular than you will see in most California cities and you can even have the experience of wearing a warm woolly sweater with a matching scarf and gloves at a Friday night football game. The short and mild winter season is perfect for enjoying delicious soups, warm bread, hot coffee and fires in your living room on a silvery afternoon when the valley wears its blanket of fog or when we are kept indoors by a few days of rain.
- I love the size of Stockton. It is not too big and not too small. It is big enough to have most every major chain store and restaurant that you could ever want (my personal favorites – Trader Joes, Target, Starbucks, Panera’s, Family Christian, Baskin Robbins and See’s Candies) yet small enough to have many unique specialty stores and interesting local dining experiences. (like Chucks, Papapavlos, Bobs at the Marina, Sho Mi, Best Wishes, Beyond Pots & Pans) It’s small enough that I always run into friends and acquaintances when I am out and about, yet big enough that I can always meet someone new. It’s big enough to offer an array of family activities to attend – from athletic events, concerts and shows to festivals, farmers markets and Friday Night Lives - yet small enough that we are motivated to venture out to the bigger cities of Sacramento and San Francisco to take in the cultural events and activities to be experienced there. It’s small enough that I can get most anywhere I need to in 15 minutes or less – with very little traffic irritation - yet big enough that I can take a Sunday afternoon drive out to the countryside or down the Delta waterways. It is big enough to have a wide variety of youth sports, recreation and classes yet small enough to personally know many of the coaches, teachers and parents that are involved in my children’s lives.
- I love my Stockton church where I have attended faithfully for 25 years – the church where I celebrated my wedding and have dedicated and baptized all my children. But even more, I love the large and diverse local Christian community that has been more united over the years by Stockton’s own Christian radio station KYCC, many prominent local pastors and more recently the Leadership Stockton Group that has sponsored events like the National Day of Prayer and the inspirational city wide Easter Sunrise Service that we have attended at Weber’s Point since it’s inception in 2000.
- I love the lights and decorations that adorn much of the city at Christmastime – especially the fun and festivity found in the neighborhood of Meadow Drive (aka - Christmas Tree Lane) and the awe inspiring, bigger than life nativity that Alex Spanos has graciously shared with the city that has become a part of our family tradition on Christmas Eve. In addition, the multitudes of opportunities to attend Christmas concerts, productions and services throughout the city is unending!
- I love the stately majesty and beauty of the ivy covered brick buildings on the campus at the University of the Pacific and the grandeur of the Cathedral of Annunciation. I could drive around the Miracle Mile and Victory Park residential areas for hours looking at the lovely unique homes on the beautiful tree lined streets while my daughters point out which houses they would want to live in “someday.”
- I love my modest 50+ year old home, my kind neighbors and quiet neighborhood, my local swimming pool and city park complete with picnic tables, a playground, ball field, basketball & tennis courts (and no I don’t live in one of the shiny new “behind the gates” master planned communities) as well as my friendly mail deliverers, PG&E meter readers and UPS drivers.
- I love the amazing and beautiful downtown waterfront that continues to grow and develop into one of the brightest spots in our entire city. The most puzzling thing to me is the relatively few people who actually take advantage of what our downtown offers – a fabulous playground for the little ones and great picnic spot at Weber’s Point, a perfect place to get some exercise by taking a walk while enjoying the sights and sounds of the water ways and being cooled off by the gentle Delta breezes, the games and events at the ball field and arena, the interactive water fountain on a hot summer day, dining at one of several fine restaurants, taking in a movie at the most attractive theater in the area and grabbing a coffee or ice cream before taking a romantic evening stroll with your sweetheart by the fountains surrounding the historic Hotel Stockton. Not too mention a variety of special events that are held downtown throughout the year to take advantage of. What are you all waiting for?
- I love that when I need to experience the sights, smells and sounds of my favorite place in the world, the seashore or I want to stand on a mountain top and feel the awesome power of God I don’t even have to plan ahead. I can be in either of these two awesome places in less than a two hour drive.
- Surprising to some, I may even love what others loathe about Stockton. I love that we have a city that has homeless, destitute and poor as it has given us the opportunity to share our blessings with those in need, to learn kindness and compassion and it has given us a greater appreciation of what we do have, even if it is not as much as we might hope to have. I appreciate that we have a city with the problems of trash, graffiti and unsightly areas as it gives us the chance to serve our city and teach our children the importance of taking personal responsibility for God’s creation. I think that living in a city where there is the threat of having something stolen or your home or car broken into is a constant reminder that the greatest treasures in life are truly not our money or our ”things”, but rather they are our friends, our loved ones, our time, our health, our precious memories, our lives and our God. It also keeps us praying – something we could all do more of.
- Lastly but most importantly, I love the hundreds of people who have touched and been a part of our lives over the past almost three decades of living, working, playing and worshiping in Stockton, California. They are of every age, every skin color, every background, every personality, every economic status, every faith and from every part of town. These special and amazing people are truly what makes Stockton the place we love to call home.
Here are just a few of those amazing people!