Today ends a tumultuous week for me here in Wilton Manors. However, as I sit down to write this article, my faith in our community and our wonderful city remains resilient, confident and stronger than ever.

After spending the week dealing with some negative fallout from Tuesday’s City Commission meeting and a busy work schedule, I grudgingly headed over to Snook Creek Boat Ramp on Powerline Road for our neighborhood association’s periodic clean-up of the park. Due to my foul mood and anticipation of the low turnout of our previous clean-up, I was just going through the motions of getting the whole thing over with so to get on with my one day off.

As I neared the park, I noticed a few neighbors walking across Powerline and heading toward the park. When I pulled into Snook Creek Park, I was shocked by the number of vehicles already in the lot. On this Saturday in May, the Westside Association had more people than ever show up for our community park clean-up. Neighbors coming out to help improve the community in which we all live--it doesn’t get any better than that! Thank you all!

After this wonderful morning, I went to the City’s Annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon, honoring the many volunteers who serve on city boards, committees, and various volunteer groups. The city also recognizes the winners of the Community Spirit Awards which honors outstanding community efforts of both our residents and business owners.

This year’s awards went to Mary and Ron Ulm and to Anthony LoGrande. Residents Mary and Ron Ulm were nominated together as a couple for all the wonderful work they do on behalf of the Wilton Manors Historical Society, Ron’s many hours of hard work on the restoration of the Carriage House at Richardson Park, their community service as CERT members, active members of their neighborhood association, along with past and present service on various city boards and committees.

Anthony LoGrande, owner of the Zig Zag Building on Wilton Drive, is a tireless advocate for our city in the local business community. His commitment to creating a thriving Arts & Entertainment District along Wilton Drive has made our community and our city a better place and will continue to make our city even greater.

As I close out this day on a high note, there is one thing I simply cannot understand. I will probably offend someone on our city staff, but I cannot help myself. At the Volunteer Luncheon, the thank-you item was a mason jar bearing our city logo. I’m not sure about you, but this city boy equates mason jars with those who drink moonshine, pickle vegetables, or use them as some type of desk accessory.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with any of that, but how did a mason jar wind up being our city’s promotional item? I might be convinced, if we volunteers were able to get them filled at various drinking establishments along Wilton Drive. Unfortunately, when I tried at Matty’s across from City Hall after I left the luncheon, the bartender thought I was a bit daft.

So, I headed home with empty mason jar in hand, wondering why? Did our Mayor get a great deal on these jars during a recent visit to the mountains of Georgia? Did someone order cases, thinking to sell them at last year’s Stonewall event? For Pete’s sake, they’re not even the ones with a handle! Perhaps if they were filled with something that was made locally, like the sour orange and serrano chili jam I recently made from items grown in my garden, but alas they were just empty mason jars with a logo.

Some might use them for cocktails, but I think mother’s glassware is far more suitable for my Bombay gin. If the city was being frugal, other promotional items in the same price point would have been much more useful, like a frizzy finger duster bearing the city logo to dust off computer keys and much more. Perhaps an Island City clip to keep your open bag of chips fresh? If you wanted to make a real statement, stainless steel drink bottles emblazed with the Island City logo would be a huge success, but would probably be blamed for the rise in the milage rate next year; so better stick with the mason jars.

Volunteers do what they do, not for recognition or mason jars or flashy gifts, but to help make our community a better place, and that’s why life in Wilton Manors is just better here….