I can still view Phoenixville as an outsider, though it's getting harder every day. Maybe because I've been in Phoenixville working at the paper for a year now, I'm asked almost everyday what I "think" about Phoenixville.
The answer is usually easily given without much thought and to me at least is quite obvious - the Kiwanis. Even upon further consideration, I would still answer the same way.
The Kiwanis is an organization that is stronger here than it is in other small towns. Big towns and cities simply can't match it. It's all about hometown pride.
The Kiwanis are everywhere and doing everything. And people respond. Hundreds recently attended a spaghetti dinner that benefited the Phoenixville Library. Seemed that everybody knew everybody. Just one fundraiser of many.
Not to short change the other community groups, including the Jaycees. All groups such as Kiwanis, the Jaycees, the Rotary, the Lions and all the others are the heart and soul of our community.
Last week's Dogwood Festival was a blast for everyone who attended. Look around though, and the biggest smiles were on the faces of those who organized and ran the festivities.
Several of the Jaycees who I spoke with during the festival were extremely happy with the success of the event itself but more so with the funds which that fun generated for both the Jaycees and at least a dozen other charitable organizations. These folks truly gave.
Like the spaghetti dinner, the festival was a fun way to see old friends and chat for a good cause.
Plus there are all those other organizations which serve Phoenixville and bring a smile to our faces and a bit of cash to the needy.
PACS, The Community Health Foundation and the Clinic all help the needy, along with many Phoenixville Hospital programs.
Phoenixville's architecture makes the town stand out. A walk down Bridge Street with your head in the clouds should be impetus enough to look up at the very distinctive architecture found here. All over town, in houses and businesses, the beautiful buildings still stand. Those monuments are a link to the past.
Former worksites like the Foundry Building and the Superintendent's Building can take away one's breath.
Throw in the French and Pickering Creek plus the Schuylkill River at our doorstep and we've got plenty of the wet stuff. The length of our pedestrian trails grows yearly.
A fun part of Phoenixville is the seemingly haphazard way that the street layout was devised. Few major intersections meet at right angles and and instead roads in the borough converge at odd angles.
The Nutt Road and Bridge Street intersection is one of the strangest known to mankind, but I wouldn't trade it in for all the PennDOT road work in the world.
Phoenixville is rich with suburbs. Homes continue to rise from the farmland and bring in more people who call the area home. Our road network of Routes 23, 29, 113 and 724 and proximity to Routes 422 and 202 suits them just fine.
Then there are those who make a buck out of the area. Those really cool businesses in the downtown add zip.
The town is becoming a Mecca for live music and downtown they keep adding venues and even bring in the national acts.
Zeps are the food of kings. Nuff said.
I've never seen a community cherish its hospital to such a degree. So many have ties to those who work there. Phoenixville residents are proud of the health care that they receive locally and the doctors who practice here are as good, if not better, than anywhere.
Combine all of the above and you will find an attitude common to many of those who live in Phoenixville. A bit provincial (well yes, it is a great place!) but more likely everyone is enthused with positive changes.
Those from Phoenixville don't take bunk from anybody.
It was a town on the mend but now it's completely well and ready to go. Most people have lived their whole lives here and aren't going anywhere soon - quite a testament.
They love reading about their neighbors and goings in The Phoenix. I'm often shocked at how many people stay informed and miss very little that we publish.
For a year now I still get a thrill when I look over someone's shoulder and see them reading our little old rag or look into an honor box and see my byline. (It's even better when the box is sold out.)
Visitors aren't only welcome in Phoenixville, they are cherished. Although a bit of an outsider, I've been treated like a member of the community from the start.