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West Orange Times & Observer Friday, Jul. 30, 2021 11 months ago

What a difference a year can make

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With businesses open, local teens are enjoying a much more ‘normal’ summer this year.
by: Guest Writer

By Julia High

If you walk down the streets of Downtown Windermere, you’ll find a heartwarming sight; joyful patrons flocking around community favorite eateries such as Allen’s Creamery, Dixie Cream Cafe and Paloma Coffee Co.

Such sights are becoming increasingly frequent across the Windermere and West Orange area as reopening has taken the area by storm. The state of the community is a stark contrast from July 2020, when everyone was still locked in their homes, nervously awaiting news on school reopenings and other safety measures. It is truly remarkable to see how far our community — and the nation — have come in our return to normalcy.

Local restaurants aren’t the only spots enjoying an influx of customers. The always-popular Windermere Farmers Market is in full swing this summer. On Friday mornings, you can catch families strolling down Main Street, vendors selling their wares, and everyone having a great time. The Windermere Branch Library has also reopened; even though visitors cannot sit inside the library, many still frequent the library to take a nostalgic walk through the shelves and discover a new favorite book.

Aside from local businesses reopening, school starts for most students in early August. Many teens are ecstatic to be returning in person. I interviewed Windermere Prep students Luisa Luo and Carissa Ruiz for their perspectives on the community reopening.

 

1

 How has your summer been since Orange County has reopened? Were you able to go out more than last summer?

Luisa: I have been able to go out more than last summer, especially to public places such as theme parks and malls. Compared to last summer, I also feel slightly more protected going out, because I am fully vaccinated.

Carissa: My summer has been extremely enjoyable, especially knowing that my family and I are protected with the vaccine. We have been able to reunite with close friends and family while making some beautiful memories.

 

2

 Are you excited to return to school for what will hopefully be a full year?

Luisa: I am excited to return, but at the same time, I’m curious about my school’s safety protocols and policies. I would also like to feel well-prepared for a higher level of challenging junior-year classes.

Carissa: Yes, and I’m excited to enjoy a full senior year while also getting back to competing in tennis and weightlifting. Unfortunately, I missed several competitions last year due to COVID-19, which was extremely frustrating and disappointing. It was a completely different experience not seeing my friends and learning online. I’m ecstatic to start safely getting back to normal.

 

3

  What is a social activity that you’ve missed during the pandemic? Have you been able to do it this summer?

Luisa: During the pandemic, I missed attending birthday parties and celebrations and also the opportunity to watch shows at the local community theater. I’ve been able to catch up on these events this summer with friends and family.

Carissa: Not being able to travel was an activity I missed very much. Most of my traveling includes visiting family, and I did not fully appreciate the value of physical togetherness until we could not be together. Luckily, this summer, I have spent time with my family and made up for the lost time.

 

Despite the advances that our community has made in the past few months, we aren’t entirely in the clear. Local Orange County officials are encouraging mask-wearing again — even among vaccinated members of the community. The COVID-19 Delta variant is still a threat, and it’s still important to remain vigilant to stop the spread of the virus. We all want to continue being out and about and experiencing everything that our community has to offer. No one wants to return to lock down, and community members must be safe and smart to protect themselves and their loved ones.

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