I am not a native of Orlando, but I moved here in 2010. Although I was apprehensive about moving away from the place I called home for over 30 years, I came to this town with my family and to be honest, I’ve never had a moment of regret. The people, the culture, the weather…I love this city. I love it when friends and family visit so I can take them to a great restaurant we’ve discovered, or a new local shop, or when we can show them some interesting art. I love going to an Orlando City game and seeing people from all different walks of life, spend time as a unified group to support our local team. I love going to the Fringe Festival and meeting artists who have traveled here from all over the world to take part in Orlando’s Fringe Festival, because it’s the longest running and one of the most respected Fringe festivals in the U.S.
When most people think of Orlando they probably think of at least one of the three following things: theme parks, gators, and weird ass stories they read on the Internet about “Florida Man.” Yes, we have all of that and yes, we have problems just like any other city, but even with all its weirdness, Orlando really and truly is “The City Beautiful” for the reasons above and a myriad of others.
For something like the massacre at Pulse nightclub to happen is unfathomable to me. Any kind of event like this is, but for it to happen here in Orlando…I just don’t understand. This is a city whose economy is literally built upon showing people world-class hospitality and a good time, tourists and locals alike. People come here to have fun, to make memories, and to escape reality for a little while. They go to a theme park, check out a museum, or maybe go to a nightclub.
I don’t even care what the reasons were for the shooting, or pretend to propose any type of solution. That’s not my job, and that’s not what this post is about. This is about remembering the victims and their families, and supporting the survivors, with blood, and well-wishes. This is about knowing that this horrible act will weigh heavy on us as a community. It will make us crazy wondering why these things happen, and how could they happen here in Orlando. It will make us feel angry, sad, defeated, and even afraid.
But this senseless event will do other things too. It will remind us that we are all part of this city, and this community. We will and must stand strong together, because that’s what’s going to get us through. It’ll remind us that even though we are a community woven together with people from all over the country and the world, with different backgrounds, customs, and beliefs, we are still ONE city, united. We are The City Beautiful. Not because of the pretty lakes, fountains, or palm trees. The people are what make Orlando beautiful and this horrible act will never, ever take that away from us.
I love this city.