My love affair with Arcadia began on Halloween night in 2007 when my daughter was just 2½ years old.
It’s that wondrous age when you can dress up your kid in any ridiculously adorable, ill-fitting animal costume with no complaints, and without guilt, throw away their candy after they are tucked into bed. We were living in a neighborhood mostly made up of second homeowners and retirees – definitely not the apex for door-to-door festivities.
Fortunately, a friend of mine invited us to go trick or treating with her family in Arcadia.
Not only did I discover this utterly charming, quintessential, front-porch neighborhood plopped in the middle of a big city, but quickly realized that in Arcadia, Halloween is a national holiday.
It felt as if I was at Universal studios or Disneyland, as throngs of costumed people walking the streets holding tightly to the hands of their tiny Disney princesses, cartoon characters and superheroes. There were golf carts, wagons, fire-pits and spooky décor. Regardless of age, everyone was fully immersed in the spirit of tricks and treats.
At that moment, walking around this “Cheers” like atmosphere, where everyone seems to know your name, I knew this would be a great place to raise my daughter.
When I mentioned to people, I wanted to move to Arcadia, I was time and again told the same thing: The good news about Arcadia is you’ll know your neighbors. The bad news about Arcadia is you’ll know your neighbors!
First of all, I am a city girl and grew up in an apartment building where you knocked on your neighbor’s door to ask for everything from sugar to Band-Aids. My grandma watched me when my mom was at work, and I fondly remember all the neighbors coming over regularly for coffee, card games and just plain old-fashioned chitchat. Imagine that, people hanging out and just talking, sans electronics!
In addition, I was at that time a single mom and I liked the idea of having neighbors who would keep an eye out on us and knock on my door when I forgot to shut the garage. There is a certain sense of familiarity and security which helps you sleep better at night.
So, we moved to Arcadia and it turns out knowing my neighbors has proved to be one of my favorite parts of living here. One early weekend morning as I was sitting in my living room having coffee, I looked out towards the back door and saw that my yard was completely flooded and the water was slowly creeping its way towards my patio and house. I immediately ran across the street to my neighbors and without hesitation, he grabbed his wrench, found the water main and turned it off averting what would have been a disaster.
Another time, I nearly jumped out of my skin when I saw a scorpion scamper past my bare feet in the bathroom. I quickly grabbed the plunger and trapped him, giving me enough time to run across the street to yet another neighbor, begging him to finish off my prisoner. He willingly obliged and emerged from my bathroom with a mission-accomplished look on his face. He even managed to keep his teasing to a minimum, given it wasn’t a scorpion at all, but a baby lizard!
One night on Halloween many years ago, a friend of my daughter’s got stuck in the bathroom when the lock jammed. We tried to calm her down by passing notes and cookies under the door while we attempted to unjam the lock, but she was very little and understandably frightened. My next-door neighbor’s sons, who were home visiting from college, left their friends to come to her rescue. One of them worked feverishly trying to take the door off while the other called the fire department asking for help.
It was an all’s well that ends well situation. It was also a double reminder on that Halloween night of why I came to Arcadia in the first place, and more importantly, why I quickly realized it is my neighbors and my neighborhood that makes me grateful and humbled that I decided to stay.
— Robin Sewell is the host and executive producer of the Emmy Award winning Arizona Highways Television.