As we say goodbye to 2018 and welcome a fresh new year, I can't help but reflect on the many new people I met this year, and old friends I stayed connected with or reconnected with. It has been a year of change, new beginnings and growth for me personally and for my small hometown as well. If you haven't heard about our downtown revitalization campaign then surely you've been living under a rock for the last few years! Havana is right square in the midst of an outright reinvention. We have made an assessment, set goals, boundaries and guidelines and now we are putting those plans in motion to make our town and community more visible, and to draw in folks from around the State and from all over our great Country to pay us a visit and see what we are all about here in little old Havana. We intend to be a desirable destination for travelers from near and far.
From my view, we have much to offer. We have a beautiful riverfront, great shopping, restaurants and most of all, great people. I always hear visitors say, "the people were so nice, they act like they've always know you". It's also very true. I think when you are raised in a Midwestern town, you are just brought up making conversation and talking to everyone you see, even if you have no idea who they are! Saying hello and talking to people, whether I know them or not is probably one of my favorite things to do. I enjoy meeting new people and after that, well you aren't really strangers anymore anyway.
Many new beginnings came about for me in 2018. I began attending meetings that were geared toward making friendships and partnerships with business owners in Havana, and contributing to the change and revitalization of our community. I met people who were long time business owners in Havana, and those who are just getting fired up. I became so passionate about telling the world who we are that I built this website: Historic Havana Illinois.com. I took a ton of pictures of everything Havana and enjoyed every one of them and even participated in two art shows!
Many others were also very ambitious and achieved so much success! Many of our downtown buildings were rehabilitated and resurrected through the revitalization. The face of our downtown is beginning to change for the better. Where once there was only darkness, now lights are shining, exterior facades are beautifully painted and restored and we are beginning our art and mural installations soon! All of these changes give folks pause to say, something has changed, this is different and they are doing things here. Because we are!
Havana deserves to have a reputation as a great town to visit and spend some time recreating, shopping, eating and even staying overnight. I intend to do my part, as an individual who wants to see Havana and all of it's community members and businesses succeed, I will promote our little Midwestern gem and if all goes well, we will be noticed for our charm, history and most of all, for our people.
Looking to 2019, I must say, the times they are a changin' and that is certainly a good thing! Happy New Year and I will see you in Historic Havana! ~April