What I Learned On My July 4 Visit To RPB


Last week, I crossed “The Great Divide” (i.e., Southern Blvd.) and attended Royal Palm Beach’s Independence Day celebration. I generally go to Wellington’s, but I wanted to see the new park, Royal Palm Beach Commons.

I was glad I did.

I had a great time. I loved walking on the fresh grass, seeing the splash-happy children and enjoying America as it should be — neighbors getting together to have a good time. And, although the sign posted on the elevator read “No Access Today,” I even explored the observation deck of the tower at the invitation of Recreation Director Lou Recchio.


Mayor Matty Mattioli joked that his village was considering annexing the Village of Wellington, but I don’t think that will happen. Our horses will vote it down.

But I was appreciative of the fact that those in charge of Royal Palm Beach, which was originally established as a golf community for retirees, had the good sense to reinvent the abandoned golf course into something that answers the needs of the current population.

The current population has a lot of young families, and the mother of the young family I was with had nothing but praise for the park. She had been there the day before it opened (when curiosity got the best of her) and had been visiting regularly ever since. “This is the go-to place for moms,” Shelley confided. “This, and Target. I see everybody I know at those two places.”

Another member of our party, who happens to get around by wheelchair, enthused that the playground was completely handicapped-accessible.

“I was able to go on every single thing!” Victoria told me proudly.

It was a historic first for her — even though she’s 34.

The demographics of America are changing, and wise are the community leaders who look up from their laptop agendas to take note of the faces in the meeting hall. It’s also nice when they realize that young families whose children go to bed right around 8 p.m. have trouble getting to meetings, as do those in wheelchairs. They need to take a look around Target… or Publix… or the library on a Saturday afternoon to see a real slice of their town.

When I moved to Florida (back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth), that park was still a golf course, the building nearby was a tiny little library, most of the faces in the grocery store were over 65 and Target was not due to arrive in Florida for another 16 years.

But nobody’s complaining. Nothing makes a person feel as youthful as being around the young. We may not play “Chase Me!” with a toddler for more than five minutes before we realize we are no longer breathing, but we sure can smile while watching them from a bench.

And the music right in front of the stage may be a bit too loud for us, but we love feeling the beat from clear across the park.

And a bright-red jungle gym? Why, even I couldn’t resist going hand-over-hand across it. I didn’t make it all the way, but for one brief shining moment, I felt like a kid again…

…a very heavy and somewhat dorky kid.