I grew up in a small town in North Texas and I can honestly say that there are some aspects of living in the big city that make me long for a grassy front yard and a strong old tree to climb. Daily glare from the black top can put me in a somber mood at times. Yet, Phoenix is no ordinary city; it’s several cities. Living in Laveen has certainly satisfied my need to be closer to simpler, natural aspects of life. I can remember attending the community parade near the old Greenville courthouse as a child; one in particular with my Pa Pa (Grandpa), mother, and sisters. The parade was fun to watch but what sticks out in my mind is wandering the downtown area, my Pa Pa carrying my little sister on his shoulders and just being in the pure and beautiful day. Such precious moments bring a few tears to my eyes. I really do miss that sweet man.
Decades later and here I am with my family and we’ve chosen to settle in a little farming village just southwest of a major city, not just for the housing prices but because Michael and I could see what a wonderful community it is. Just as in Greenville, Laveen hosts a yearly parade full of community color and pride. It doesn’t cover much ground, from 43rd Ave. to 51st Ave., but it does carry with it a lot of Arizona culture and history. There’s nothing simpler than setting up a lawn chair on the side of the road to watch the most interesting characters from your community pass by and wave hello. From the local Shriners, clowns, schools, government agencies, and shops, you might assume over half the village is actually in the parade. It’s just a reaffirmation that it is possible for some many groups and backgrounds can live together peacefully and make quite a show of it in the process.
February is a busy time for Laveen. The weekend after the grand parade, the village hosts a massive barbecue. If you thought the whole village was at the parade, you’d be wrong. EVERYONE shows up to the barbecue! This year the barbecue was held at the beautiful Corona Ranch. The site may change from year to year, but the local flair never does. There’s always live entertainment. There are booths for every topic under the sun, many of them previously featured in the parade. For the kids, there are bounce houses, a petting zoo, and crafts! But the real attraction is the food. Laveen is a known for being a dairy community, so great pride is bestowed on the pit prepared meats. The pride is not unwarranted, let me tell you. It’s a good thing you want to savor every bite or that sandwich might be long gone before you even knew it was there. I have to admit though that my favorite part of the barbecue has to be the Friends of the Library book sale. We usually come home with a box of books for around $10. It’s for a good cause and we get MORE BOOKS! I’m also pretty partial to the Laveen Art League show. Local artists show their talents from painting to metalwork. This year, I found a small painting I just couldn’t leave behind. If you leave the barbecue relaxed, you’re not doing it right. There’s just too much to do before you slump home, sun warped, full-tummied, and mind full of ideas.
We’re only newcomers to this little farm community, but already I feel rooted here. I hope my boys feel the same. I hope they can look back on their years here, so that wherever they go they will have memories of simple happiness. After all, it’s the small moments that make the biggest impact.