Sunday, October 31, 2004

Son(s) of Skippy

Once upon a time, Celebration had a mascot of sorts: an old, rusty Dodge Dart that greeted visitors as they drove over the bridge into town. To see why he was named "Skippy," click here to see a photo on Tom's website that will make it clear. Skippy polarized the either loved it or hated it. He even caused family discord, much like the Civil War. Instead of one family member fighting for the North and another for the South, one would defend the old clunker while the other declared it should be banished from town. I know this from personal experience, as I was a Skippy supporter while my husband took the other side. At one point, poor Skippy even suffered a vandalism attack; his tires were slashed, and his customized "Bee Fun" license plate was stolen.

Eventually, after having a "For Sale" sign out front for at least a year, Skippy's owner sold his house and hauled off the rust bucket, hopefully to more hospitable environs. Now, all that remains are fond memories and a slowly fading but still visible oil stain in front of Mirasol where it spent most of its time.

I still miss Skippy greeting me as I drive into town, but one day I discovered some "sons of Skippy" scattered throughout the downtown. No, they're not cars, but they have just as much rust and are even more decrepit. If you want to see them, just walk through the various parking lots off Front Street, look at the bike racks, and you'll see Skippy's children up close and personal. I also sent my husband on a photo mission to take some pictures of the best ones. Click here to see the triplets, which he dubbed Jeanne, Frances, and Charlie in honor of the fact that they rusted in the racks with quiet dignity through three hurricanes and are still standing (well, okay, maybe leaning, but they're still there).

I don't know if many people realize that we have lots of abandoned bikes chained to the various racks in downtown Celebration. My husband and I use our bicycles as our main means of transportation, so we use the racks on a frequent basis. It's not hard to spot the abandoned ones, as their tires are completely flat and their chains are so rusted that I doubt they would even move anymore. One is even missing its seat. Someone must have owned them and cared about them at some point, as all three are chained. But unlike Skippy's owner, who took his vehicle with him, the poor, bedraggled bikes have been left to rust and decay as orphans.

Also unlike Skippy, they are not so easily visible, so unlike the poor Dodge Dart, they don't incur the wrath of the "Keep Our Town Beautiful" brigade. That's why they'll probably last much longer than their "father."

At first, the motley "sons of Skippy" annoyed me because they take up valuable rack space. Usually we have no problem finding somewhere to chain our bikes, but space can be at a premium during special events downtown. But now I've adopted the same attitude that I did with the old car: if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Now, when I pull up to one of the racks where they reside, I feel like I'm greeting an old, familiar friend. Just as Skippy once welcomed me into town, Charley, Frances, or Jeanne gives me a friendly "hello" as I prepare to dine at Max's or head over to the Farmer's Market.

Goodings may leave town, Lexin may slowly eliminate the downtown special events (where the heck is Posh Pooch, and did you notice that the "falling leaves" where switched from two weekends to only one?), and condos and townhomes may take over all the downtown parking spots, but at least the "sons of Skippy" will remain.

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