As I stand at Sexton Plaza and look out over the placid Atlantic Ocean, and always appreciative and respectful of nature, I have a feeling of serenity today. Under a brilliant blue sky and right in front of me is an American flag flying on a pole rising from the ocean on the site of the sunken SS Breconshire. This 300-foot-long ship was an English-built steamer that was traveling to Tampa from New York when it wrecked in 1894 due to faulty navigational charts – or could that have been an excess of rum. A short swim from shore I can be snorkeling in just 20-25 feet of water depth, over the skeleton of the ship and all the colorful corals and tropical fish swimming, apparently aimlessly, in the warm waters.
But Vero Beach is more than just this idyllic scene. The city is celebrating its 100thyear of incorporation in 2019. The stories of hardship and opportunities are being shared in the local newspaper and the family lineages, still very present, are being honored. Happily today the policies of years ago are preserved – like the absence of any high-rise buildings. Many of the people I have met grew up here, other than the snowbirds who similarly love this simple, yet sophisticated community.
Of course there is the beach and a wonderful natural environment for hiking and biking, but there are luxury hotels, eclectic boutique hotels and quaint B&Bs, lots of water sports plus golf courses galore, tennis and bocce, skydiving and breweries too.
Piper Aircraft is based at the Vero Beach airport and manufactures their array of aircraft right here. The Brooklyn, and later Los Angeles, Dodgers had their spring training here for many years and now Major League Baseball is leasing that facility known as Dodgertown, to develop more league training facilities and programs. Indian River citrus is world renowned and coveted by all who enjoy fresh oranges and grapefruit, synonymous with The Sunshine State.
OK, sure we have some CAVE people (Citizens Against Virtually Everything) here and city and county leaders often disagree (aka free-speech and democracy), except for the fact that everyone wants long-term benefits for the region and its people. There are survival challenges for those in need, but the community seems to be extremely generous to provide food, clothing and education for individuals, families and children.
So why do I find Vero Beach so wonderful? Of course there is the climate and the economic environment. There are some great resorts here – even Disney and the Estefans have established stakes in our hospitality industry. People help each other and don’t race to get through red lights or need to forcefully squeeze into traffic lanes. People have fun here, if they live here or if they are just visiting, maybe getting married here – even meeting attendees and incentive travel winners. And I’m not alone. “Coastal Living” magazine in 2018 named Vero Beach as one of the 10 Best Little Beach Towns in Florida. It’s the Treasure Coast, figuratively and emotionally.
Francis W. Purvey