As you know if you’ve followed along on this blog, I love Paso Robles. I can say that I love it because of the wineries, restaurants, growing beer scene, and events…which would all be true but I think there are two more important reasons why I love Paso. One of those reasons is the people. This city is full of amazingly gifted, talented, funny, compassionate, and intelligent people that also know how lucky they are to live here. I’ve talked about this point often on this blog.
The other reason is the downtown square…the core of Paso Robles.
The downtown square is the heart of this city. It is what breathes life into this area. In many ways it is where this city ends and begins. This community congregates in the square for concerts in the park during the summer, festivals like Wine Festival and the Olive Festival, car shows, art related events, the lighting of the Christmas lights, farmers markets, safe Halloween trick or treating for the kids, and this year the New Year’s Eve “Glow in the Park” to kick off 2014 and the 125th anniversary of this city.
We truly are very lucky to be in such a city that has that physical space we call the “downtown square” which lends itself to easy gathering, the space for such events mentioned above, and ease of use. As you meander around the square you notice the historic Carnegie Library in the park itself along with the gazebo, both of which add such charm to the park itself. Surrounding the park are buildings that house restaurants, wine tasting rooms, boutique shops, and more.
Almost all of these buildings have unique architecture that also lends itself to the vibe and overall feeling of the square. The earthquake in 2003 damaged many buildings and soon after a move to have them retrofitted also led to many of the building faces being redone. I believe that our downtown would not be what it is today without that earthquake. It forced the city and the people to make some much needed changes…in my opinion.
There are so many other little things that add to the downtown space…like the lighting, the trees that fill the park, the different little flag signs the city puts up for different times of year like Christmas, the relatively new Ignace Paderewski statue in front of the Carnegie Library building, and the playground in the park. The Paso Robles Inn sits at the southwest corner of the park and adds another dynamic to the square with its brick tower and lengthy history.
Annie and I have had the pleasure of enjoying the square for seven years now and seeing a lot of the upgrades happen before our eyes. We were fortunate to live a few blocks away from the square for a while too, which gave us the opportunity to go for walks and pop into downtown morning, noon, and night. The vibe each time of day is quite different yet always welcoming.
I wonder if other people think the way I do or could ramble on about a downtown square and park. I wonder why I care so much. Maybe it’s because I spent much of my life not experiencing those feelings of home, of place, of belonging. When I moved to the Paso Robles area right before that earthquake in 2003 it felt right here. Then, when Annie and I met and she moved here to Paso from Santa Maria we got to explore this area together. Now here we are raising our son in this place that we call home…and we call it home not simply because we reside here, instead it’s because it is actually a home for us and it all starts at the heart of it, the downtown square.