So, where did we leave off? I was expounding upon how much I enjoy traveling from Vegas to L.A. as well as describing the original reasons Romeo and I went this last time (musical gig of a friend). But I didn't really get into details of what we did and how much fun it was.
So, our friend Ron Ellington Shy was performing in Covina, CA, and Romeo and I decided to make a weekend out of it. However we found out in the interim that it also happened to be a day in Covina called "Pat Allen Day." Pat Allen was the late wife of one of Covina's former mayors. She passed away after battling breast cancer a few years ago and the city has since organized an annual fundraiser and donates money to the local hospice and has done it for three years now. Romeo knew Pat, her husband (mayor) Walt, and their son Walter from his theatre days there in Covina, as Pat and Walter were both involved as well. So when he found out this day was the same weekend, you couldn't keep him from it! A day to reunite with old friends in downtown Covina, and support his old buddy's late mother's cause and celebrate her life? He practically sprinted from Vegas to California! (P.S. I LOVE my husband for being that kind of guy. If he cares for you, he SERIOUSLY cares for you.)
Our day consisted of visiting with friends, eating, shopping, and just having a seriously grand time. We visited with Walt and Walter for a while. It was wondeful to meet Romeo's fun-loving theatre friend. We also patronized not one but two restaurants owned by Romeo's friends, the Petersons. (If anyone reading this blog lives in or near Covina or the San Gabriel Valley area, I highly recommend both The Sugar Bowl and Giovanni's, by the way. Seriously, the food is great at both, and the atmospheres of each? So wonderful! And no, it's not just because Romeo knows the owners. I wouldn't do that--if I didn't like either place I simply wouldn't even mention going there.)
What struck me the most, and one of the reasons I wanted to post about this particular visit to California, was how this community banded together and what a warm feeling I know I had, and believe everyone had, that day as I walked up and down Citrus Ave. Coming from the suburbs of Chicago to Las Vegas has been an adjustment, most definitely. One part of that is city size. Las Vegas doesn't compare to Chicago as a whole, but most of the time growing up I didn't really consider myself as living truly in Chicago. I lived in the suburbs, so in comparing the suburbs to Vegas, Vegas is HUGE. There is no "small town" or "community" feel. And honestly, most times I don't really miss it that much, actually. Don't get me wrong, it's a loss, but it's just not such a loss that it would make me leave Las Vegas. I love Vegas. But spending the day in Covina on Pat Allen Day was just so refreshing. It actually felt more tight-knit and caring than the suburbs I'm used to!
Yes, yes, I understand it was one special annual day. Some could say it isn't necessarily how the town is the other 364 days a year. Yet, I would argue that in fact they must have at least some of that magic those other 364 days, or else they would never be the kind of community that would even think to put on such a special day once a year! (Am I making any sense? What I'm trying to say is it takes a special town, a special community, a special people to even want to produce such an event.)
When was the last time you knew of a community where for a day 7 hair salons and almost a dozen shops donated up to 50% of their profits for a woman some employees and owners didn't even know? In this day and age, that's HUGE! People smiled on the streets to strangers as they passed. People stood in line to shake the former mayor and widower's hand and share their condolences. People opened their wallets to buy from the businesses donating, and there were extra raffles and donation boxes as well. There was even a large banner hanging at the main intersection announcing the day. My hometown in Illinois never even did that!
I felt at home in a place that is practically across the country from my home.
Thank you, Covina, CA for what you did for the hospice, the Allens, and for me.