The Sense of Community ‘Boomerangs’ Feel has Been Heightened During this Time of Coronavirus
Chappaqua, NY — Townies. Every town has them. Here, maybe they are those who frequent The Kittle House every weekend for brunch or those who go to Wednesday night summer concerts even when it’s raining and they’re held indoors – the loyalist of fans.
What many people don’t realize is that each town is made up of the Real Townies, the Boomerangs. The people who were born and raised, scored their first goal, had their first kiss, went to prom and graduated from high school all in the same town, returning so their kids could do the same.
Try imagining Chappaqua without a nail salon or pizza place around every corner. It’s hard, but that’s what these Boomerangs had to grow up with. They had Family Britches for their suit needs and Lickety Split for their sweet hankerings.
Of course, ever since COVID-19, we have all been living like a Boomerang without having access to the nail salons or the luxury of walking into Lange’s and seeing everybody we know. Despite losing all of our typical routines and days, it’s not so hard knowing that we are living in an incredibly united community.
Just look at how the town came together to help raise funds to support local restaurants and healthcare workers. Within a week, we were able to raise over $60,000. It’s now been almost a month and over $100,000 and 3,000 meals have been provided!
Eileen Kloper Cohen, a Greeley graduate and current Chappaqua resident, is grateful to be living in a community like ours in a time like this.
“I see many Facebook groups formed quickly to contribute to the critical mask making efforts. People sharing sewing machines, fabrics, elastics and other supplies to help in this. I see a new Chappaqua Facebook page to help others in our town with information which has been changing each day. Where to find specific items that are hard to find, where you can drive up and not get out of your car, and things like that. I do see people pulling together and trying to help one another.”
I personally had a hard time growing up understanding the “hype” around living here. I’ve grown up in a house that is 1.2 miles down the road from my dad’s childhood home. I’ve heard about the ‘crazy’ times my dad and his friends had at ‘that house’ down ‘that road’ on ‘that night’ back in the 80’s. I’ve asked my dad, why? Why do we live here, when we could be living anywhere else?
His answer was simple. “It was nice to have my parents be able to babysit whenever I wanted.” Good one Dad. Besides that perk, the proximity to the city and the memories of his great childhood made him realize that’s what he wanted his children to experience too.
Although most can’t imagine leaving their childhood home to simply relocate to a new one down the road, lots did it.
One of those kids was Cohen, Greeley ‘85. “I thought I was leaving not to be back except to visit my parents. We ended up buying a house from somebody who I used to carpool with to religious school and I ended up moving a mile and a half from my parents.”
While raising three kids here, she watched the town grow bigger, more organized and backed with more community support. Most importantly, Cohen wanted her kids to experience the amazing, competitive education that she did.
“All the reasons people choose to live in Chappaqua now are the same reasons people did back then.” And like her daughter’s senior musical production of High School Musical this year said, “we are all in this together!”
Julie Langer Lowitz, Greeley ‘84, is yet another local who gravitated toward Chappaqua because of her parents and how much she loved it as a kid.
The sense of community that Chappaqua provides in times of need, such as power outages or bus stop emergencies is Lowitz’s favorite part about raising a family here.
“We have met so many wonderful people since 1995 when we bought our house – they feel like family…”
Naturally, there are differences in the childhood memories of someone who grew up here now versus then. Lowitz noted the increase of traffic, houses and people, and Cohen mentioned the build-up of developments such as Hardscrabble Lake and Random Farms – which makes me wonder, where did people go trick or treating back then without those two?!
In terms of socializing, Cohen reminisced about the Wampus Pond parties, seeing bands play or simply meeting in town to get candy. Now, “it seems as if people need to be more stimulated,” to have fun.
Eric Green, ‘88, moved back for both the sense of community and the schooling, and he feels as if our town’s school does a great job of embodying both of those things. “Greeley is one of the most unique high schools anywhere… [It] recreationally, educationally and socially [gets] you prepared for what is next,” he said.
What’s next for the upcoming generation of Boomerangs? We’ll see.
I for one, couldn’t wait to get out of town when I was growing up. I was tired of being surrounded by the same people and hearing the same things. However, after going away to college, each time I come home I love it more and more. I started to think, “Oh man, I’m going to end up here, aren’t I?” Mom, Dad, start looking for houses about a mile down the road; you’re not getting rid of me that easy.
As for now, I’ll just savor each moment I return. And until I can leave my house again, I guess I will savor each moment that I am quarantined here! Soon, I will be able to see everyone I know in the Walgreens parking lot, get french toast from Le Jardin and of course, a Klein sandwich from Lange’s.