I’ve always thought it was no accident “dog” is “God” backwards. And, well, maybe because I so LUV Winter Park, I guess it’s not surprising Winter Park and its residents so often LUV dogs. Surely it’s a reason upon the heap of others of why I LUV living here and why so many end up hanging around here on weekends, fur-kids and all.
I think I really clued into the Winter Park connection with dogs last summer. I was out and about looking for interesting local occurrences, people and angles for how locals like to cool down in the heat. I’d seen a woman earlier with a dog, just walking the Avenue. She had on a tennis-type outfit and he had on a furry coat. Later I see them sitting outside a yogurt shop, and soon his favorite flavor was being fed to him spoon-by-spoon. He LUVed it, and I LUVed just how Winter Park it all was.
Laughing at the sight, I approached the table and asked if I could take a photo and get some information. They live in College Park, but she said she LUVs to walk Park Avenue because it’s so dog friendly, and for her dog, Pascal, it has frequent water stops… in addition to yogurt shops. This was a bit of a routine for them.
This weekend’s sidewalk sale brought forth a slew of people, and the people and dog watching were without compare. I took the opportunity to speak with some of those on the Avenue to ask them why they were there, and what they thought of Winter Park. While none of what I heard surprised me, it was wonderful to hear just the same.
I first met Alexis Broomfield, from Oviedo, walking her dog, Chewy. She commented on the sale and the weather, adding, “I like how it’s open and it’s nice and you can bring your dog.” Again, not surprising, but if local merchants and community leaders ever doubt if the city’s receptiveness to welcoming of fur-kids is a hit with those who LUV them, it is.
Soon I was talking with two ladies who seemed on a mission. I don’t remember how we started talking, but when I asked for opinions on Winter Park, they were ready and stopped mid-stride. One, Leah Moyer, exemplifies a resident Winter Park that has in abundant supply, while so many other areas do not: She left and came back. “This is my second round,” she says. “I’ve lived here about a year (this time). I lived here 11 years ago.” She and her friend, Jade Malak, are definite Park Avenue fans. “I love Park Avenue. I love the shops and stores. They’ve spoiled me,” Moyer said. “It’s a great place to live. Shooz is one of my most favorites. Synergy is another one.” She also mentions Thai Thai Sushi as a favorite restaurant, then talks about the ease of walking about to things and being a pedestrian.
I ask Jade what she likes. “Numerous places,” she says. “Whatever you’re in the mood for, it’s here.” She’s lived here since 1972 and when I ask her if there’s any other place she’d live she bluntly responds: “No.” She mentions favorite local establishments as 310 Park South and the Winter Park Fish Co. We agree on the benefits of staying local and spending most of our time within a five-mile radius of home.
The next person to cross my path captivated me with her accent. Her name is Rosey, she’s from just outside Melbourne, Australia, and she’s been in Orlando for the past two weeks teaching “avatar” classes. I LUV the gregarious, fun nature of Australians. Rosey LUVs Winter Park, so much so that during her two weeks staying on International Drive, this was her third time back in Winter Park. “I love Winter Park,” she said in that delightful Aussie way. “It is absolutely beautiful here. Everyone’s so friendly. Everything’s so clean. It just has a lovely, lovely feel about it.” She called Winter Park one of those places you don’t want to leave. And, lastly, she commented on some amazing ice cream she’d had as the best in her life. (See below.)
Not long afterwards I was speaking with a couple with a Cocker Spaniel puppy named Lucy and a Yorkie named Stella, who was trying to adjust to no longer being an only child. The couple, James and Sonia, live in Longwood, but said they’re back on Park Avenue at least every other weekend. James again referred to the dog-friendliness of the street. Sonia expands, “I love Winter Park because it’s pet friendly. Its great shopping, great restaurants. We come almost every other weekend. We know everybody when we come down. It’s friendly. What’s not to like? Everybody is so welcoming and open. There’s no other place like it in town, at all. Everybody else is trying to be like it … there’s just something to do on every single block. I love it.”
Then, she harkens back to a business I hear about again and again from those who’ve lived in Winter Park for a long period of time: The East India Ice Cream Co. I laugh as this has come up twice now, but Sonia doesn’t know what I shared earlier with Rosey: The same ice cream recipes made at East India are now available at The Briarpatch Restaurant. And, as I learned just this morning as I called to confirm, it’s being made by the same individual! I told Sonia and she can’t believe it.
Sheila Stokes, an employee from Talbots, comes out and calls to me to comment on my Facebook antics, so I ask her too. “What I love? I just love the atmosphere,” she said. “I love the atmosphere. And, OK, I’m just going to say it, I do love the wine bars.”
Lastly I talk with a young woman, Kristy, who usually works in Celebration, but was here for the weekend. “It’s just more established. It’s nicer. It’s got that old-time charm, feel. You’ve got nostalgia here,” she says of Winter Park. “I went to Rollins College. And it all reminds me of the little town where I grew up up north. The shops are better, the restaurants are better. I love it up here. I miss living here.”
Early Sunday, the skies open up and some of the waiters from Prato rush to help push in racks of clothes to Downeast. Betsy, the employee who was in the store at the time, tells me how much she appreciated it. And I think again how much I LUV living in Winter Park.
Local Luv'n Local
Local sometimes has a global angle. Take the super-popular products of Lindsay Phillips. Her SwitchFlops started right here locally. She went to high school in the area and attended Rollins College. Her footwear concept evolved from a high school art project of ceramic flip-flops. Amazed by the response, Lindsay began designing functional flops with colorful straps, each adorned by a unique button.
Her idea evolved when she realized that by using hook and loop fastener she could create one shoe with many straps — unlimited choices with minimal effort. This simple, yet brilliant innovation was the birth of SwitchFlops. Lindsay applied for a patent on her idea before she graduated high school. SwitchFlops made its retail debut in January 2007 at the Surf Expo Trade Show in Orlando, where it was showcased as a new and innovative product. Her motto: “Change your look, not your sole!” They’re now sold around the world and available locally at Leisa Lovely Designs in Fern Park (7800 S Hwy 17-92). Visit lindsay-phillips.com
Clyde Moore operates local sites ILUVWinterPark.com, ILUVParkAve.com and LUVMyRate.com, and aims to help local businesses promote themselves for free and help save them money, having some fun along the way. Email him at [email protected] or write to ILuv Winter Park on Facebook or Twitter.