Hello everyone! Today, I wanted to talk about the strange yet delightful phenomenon of living in a small suburban town.
Now, I’ve lived in the Chicagoland suburbs my entire life, yet it wasn’t until recent years when I started to really spend more time in my local community that I noticed how weird it is! And, now that I have a strong love for Gilmore Girls, I realized how Stars Hollow’s wacky events may not actually be as unique as I originally thought!
What in the Gilmore Girls? – Events in a Small Suburban Town
So first up, I always think of the crazy festivals in Stars Hollow. But then I started to see the crazy events in my own town! I’ll admit, some of these actually sound like they come from Pawnee in Parks & Recreation instead though.
For one, we have a summer festival themed around old cars. I think this is actually pretty common as many towns around me seem to have these, but the main street in town is shut down for a few blocks and people can sign up to park their cars there, show them off, and… win something? The details are fuzzy on what the purpose of it actually is but the festival is over a few days and also includes events such as a movie in the park, an old car parade, and… other things? Clearly I don’t participate in this one often! I only know a bit about it because I volunteered for the car show-off portion of the event in high school. For the last few years it was cancelled due to the pandemic and this year it did happen but it was so poorly marketed I didn’t find out about it until after I already had plans that day (and I actually wanted to go to be able to write about it in this post!). So there you go!
Another wacky event was a tree climbing championship. Yes, I said championship! I was blown away when I learned about this event. I also missed out on this event but it’s a legit competition hosted by some association. I was really excited for this event but the original date was rescheduled due to poor weather and the rescheduled date it was pouring out and I decided it wasn’t worth it. But I will look for it next year as this sounds like fun!
This next one might sound like it’s more out of Parks & Rec event, except it is a legit event. So there is a native tribe nearby, so they have a pow-wow each year. Again, it’s been cancelled these past few years and I never see it promoted until after I already have plans, so I still haven’t gone! But it does look like fun and I would love to attend sometime.
OH, one more funny event! Wait, you need some backstory to this one. So, much like Stars Hollow had their funny little origins story, my town also does! In my case, it’s not as funny as weird though. The town was actually founded by a religious nut job determined to make some sort of utopia for his fanatic followers. They left Chicago or something because it was so sinful (aka fun) and moved out here. There’s still some weird stuff left over from these fanatics, such as the fact that all the original main roads lead back to the church where the middle of town was, bars and gambling establishments used to be banned from town, and lots of their descendants of the original settlers still live in town. Apparently there was an event recently where the historical society contracted some actors to pretend to be the town founders and other key figures. They had the founders in the house that’s preserved by the historical society and then had more actors in the historic cemetery. I’m sad I missed it! They also always decorate the house for Christmas each year which I’ve meant to get to.
Other than that we have the usual events, high school Friday night football games, summer concerts, etc. Also I’m sure they have wild town meetings. I actually did attend a meeting once for landlords when my dad rented out our old home in town and it got heated since the mayor was trying to implement insane fees for invasive, mandatory inspections. We don’t have a farmers market anymore but I have seen a few people asking about one in the past on the Facebook group.
What in the Gilmore Girls? – Neighbors in a Small Suburban Town
Okay, so I’ll admit, I don’t really know my neighbors too well, unlike Lorelei, but even so it’s eventful. The aforementioned Facebook group and the Nextdoor app are both INSANE. People get so wild on those. Now, I’ll admit, the town is basically split between a more lower-income area and a more affluent area, so there’s a mix of everything. But overall it’s wild. For one, people are so NOSY! They’ll see a crash somewhere, then they go to these apps to ask what happened??? It seems so invasive and rude.
They also get a little punchy. For example, one woman asked “I keep getting a ticket when I park on the street overnight, what can I do to not get more tickets?”. OBVIOUSLY the answer is stop parking on the street overnight??? Anyway, some people replied with my exact answer already so I didn’t need to get involved, but then she got mad! Apparently she thought that was not an appropriate response, which was wild to me. Eventually it was revealed that she recently moved out to the suburbs from the city, so she didn’t know this was a standard practice in the suburbs. Maybe in that context it wasn’t as obvious but if the ticket clearly said it was for overnight street parking… shouldn’t she have been able to figure it out?
A whole other problem is that I live in an HOA area. The HOA is a whole other entity to ridicule. For the most part, the HOA where I live is pretty chill. No one really gets “in trouble” for anything but it is still a waste of money because the HOA literally does nothing. There used to be a summer picnic, but that has been cancelled because no one wanted to organize it.I see posts online of what other HOAs are like and typically they offer services like a community pool, dog waste bag dispensers, maybe a community building, but we have none of that. Literally all they do is approve or deny requests from people looking to make changes. Many people have opted out of paying the fees because they get nothing out of it and there was a petition going around to dissolve the HOA for a bit, but then the HOA sent “eviction” notices to the non-payers. Most of those opted to sell their home instead of their HOA fees, and they were most of the petition supports so that fizzled out but still so much drama!
Oh and one more story… my mafia neighbors! I don’t remember if I’ve talked about them before but it’s a fun story so I’ll share it anyway. So one of my next-door neighbors are called the “mafia” neighbors by the rest of the sub-division. Why? Because they are SO shady! There’s a lot more to this story but the short version is that they are snow birds, so the house is left abandoned most of the year. And when they are here, they try really hard to make it look like no one lives there. All the blinds stay closed, their cars are hidden in the garage, and they don’t really decorate. They do use their backyard a bit more and over the years they have done things like added a playground for the daughter, had nightly bonfires in the backyard, and have their side blinds open, but still so awkward. They also used to regularly get cars driving down the street and asking all the neighbors if the mafia neighbors were home or if we knew where they were. Eventually everyone started to get sick of these people annoying us all so it slowly stopped but every so often there are cars that come around to check out the house and see if anyone is home. Creepy!
What in the Gilmore Girls? – Life in a Small Suburban Town
Overall, life in a small suburban town is quiet and peaceful though. Now, since the town overall isn’t very affluent we don’t have a lot going on usually. The small businesses in town aren’t too compelling, which is a shame as I would love to be able to shop local. Instead, most of the stores in the downtown area have closed or just aren’t my vibe, and so I end up having to shop online or in other towns. Our park district also doesn’t offer much that interest me, so my dance classes are at another park district and they cancelled the dog training classes Fox and I used to attend.
But one thing we do have going for us is our local public library! They actually do a phenomenal job with the classes and events they offer. I personally enjoy everything from craft projects, book clubs, tai chi, yoga, and so much more! I even was invited to be a speaker at the library and did a short presentation on what it is like as a hobby blogger! It’s the kind of fun opportunities I don’t know if I would get in other locations, as many of my friends express surprise and jealousy at the robust programming at my library and lack of programming at theirs. I always tell them to call their library (or email!) and ask! In my experience, librarians just want people to take advantage of what they offer, but they need to know what people want so they can plan and justify any expense of taxpayer dollars. Without the public’s support, they don’t know what to offer!
So those are my thoughts on life in a small suburban town. I love it and I hope the Gilmore Girls vibe continues through the years!
Thanks for reading!
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