History, culture can be found
As a transplant to South Florida, I’m aware of some of the complaints residents of Palm Beach County have — hurricanes, lack of deep history, not enough quality entertainment, difficulty connecting with others and over-development.
But a home is what you make of it. There’s certainly plenty to do — especially for families with young children and active seniors. Doing a little bit of homework reveals Palm Beach Gardens has its own history.
For me, it was difficult at first to move from Easton, Pa., one of three cities where the Declaration of Independence was first read, to Palm Beach County, where many of the historical buildings are from the early 1900s.
Palm Beach Gardens is even newer. A year after insurance magnate John D. MacArthur incorporated the city, its only resident in the 1960 census was a man who lived in a shack with no water or electricity, according to the Palm Beach Gardens Historical Society.
As the city grew, so did business. The Professional Golfers Association brought its headquarters, and golf remains an integral part of the city with The Honda Classic each February.
The 1960s TV shows “Flipper,” “Gentle Ben,” and “Treasure Isle” were filmed on MacArthur’s properties in Palm Beach Gardens and on Singer Island. MacArthur talked with Walt Disney while the latter was scouting locations for the future Disney World.
But that’s old news.
There’s plenty to entertain in Palm Beach Gardens today.
As for the complaint that there aren’t enough museums and quality performances? The professional Palm Beach Symphony plays masterpieces at Benjamin Hall at The Benjamin School, in addition to its other venues. Ballet Palm Beach, likewise a professional company for Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast, performs classical ballet at the Eissey Campus Theatre just south of PGA Boulevard.
Those looking for more casual entertainment can — for free — hear South Florida’s best tribute bands play every summer at Downtown at the Gardens, which also has jazz Sundays 1 to 3 p.m. on the first week of every month.
Many of the restaurants on PGA Boulevard also have live music on their patios on weekend nights in season.
As for family events, just about every weekend this month is packed with Halloween events. The Gardens GreenMarket is in season, and even when it’s not, there’s the SummerGreenMarket up the street at the storage facility.
The tree lighting, letters to Santa and Palm Beach Holiday Boat Parade are usually a hit.
Nine out of 10 residents rated their satisfaction with parks and recreation services four or five on a five-point scale. City parks and county natural areas for exploring are abundant.
The city has gotten more crowded in the two years that I’ve been writing about it, and it’s only going to get worse. The humidity is fierce.
But before you give up on Palm Beach Gardens, give it a chance.