A Valentine for Florence  

from Sandy Dale
 I am known for being a bit verbose and for gushing on and on about particular subjects.  One of my favorites is Florence.  I have now lived here for twenty years.  For a gypsy sort of person, that’s pretty amazing.  When I moved here I thought I was just passing through this cute little Victorian town.  I figured I’d get bored and travel on…six months at the most, I thought.  Right.  I will now begin to gush.
 Dear Florence, you changed my life.  I am an artist who always wanted to be painting in Florence.  I didn’t know it would be Florence, Colorado.  I am, indeed, painting in Florence. Encouraged by the many artists who live here and by the Bell Tower Cultural Center with its many juried exhibits and great classes. I am working on new painting projects all the time.  The old Victorian buildings and the wondrous landscape are truly inspirational.
 Your quaint downtown is filled with amazing antique shops and and an antique mall or two.  The intriguing history of southeast Colorado is reflected in every shop and booth.  One can take a little of this history home.  History buffs or aspiring writers (as I am) shouldn’t miss the Archives in the City Hall Building or the Pioneer Museum at Front Street and Pikes Peak.  Both are overflowing with the exciting history of the area…  mining stuff, railroad stuff, and the stories of clever, courageous, and entrepreneurial pioneers.
 My other favorite thing to do besides painting, studying history, and shopping would be eating.  Florence, you have not failed me here.  For such a tiny town, there is no shortage of cuisine.  The variety is astounding…okay, too gushy?  Then appealing and even affordable for me.  There are the usual Subway, Domino’s Pizza, and Carl’s Jr., but also a specialty hamburger restaurant, a Chinese restaurant, a Mexican restaurant, a Japanese restaurant (yes, with sushi), a yummy bakery, a quintessential coffee house, two good ole American diners, and a great steak house.  All of these are on Main Street within a six block area.  I guess I forgot the Florence Brewery, and three bars.
 I should tell you, Florence, how much I love your special events.  I hope I don’t leave out any.  My favorite is the Merchants’ Car Show (the 21st annual this year with 6 or more blocks of vintage cars), a Wet/Dry 4th of July Parade, in September the annual Pioneer Day Parade and festivities in the park, and two Junktiques, two-day antique events on Main Street (Saturday and Sunday before the car show and the week after Pioneer Day).  Did I mention monthly concerts and art exhibits at the Bell Tower and plays and concerts at the newly restored Rialto theatre?
 I could go on, of course, but you know how much I love you.  People just have to come see for themselves.  I know I didn’t mention the hiking and biking.  We’ll just have to save that for another day.  I’m going out now to find an antique Valentine for my true love…I know I can find it in Florence.

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