|Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas|
When you live where we do, there really is no place like home.
You’ll find that theme running through the responses people gave to two simple questions I asked them this week (Link to the article coming soon.). But you’ll also find some very personal connections.
Folks agree on many of the same things to love about this area, like the beaches, lakes and creeks, the arts and entertainment events, historic places, and the basic kindness and helpfulness of the people. They’ve also found individual niches that enrich their lives — art groups, writing/reading groups, dance groups, theater groups and so forth.
One of these folks is Bunnie Hibbard, whom you may have seen on stage or working behind the scenes of productions at The Martin Theatre downtown or Kaleidoscope Theatre in Lynn Haven. I caught up to her early this week on what she described as a “spectacular day,” enjoying the sunny, 60-degree day on her porch — birds chirping in the trees, and Harley Pummil (who often co-directs plays with her) on the radio.
“I’ve never been good at picking my favorite thing about anything,” she said. “And I think that’s why I love this area so much — the variety it offers.”
Bunnie said she will re-route her regular drive if she’s had a rough day just so she can drive past the beach.
“I can be in a wooded section with birds in a second, or take a weekend at the springs. If you’re not in an outdoor mood, then we have theater (of course) anything from kids, community, to off-Broadway. I love the music festivals in the parks — many talented musicians in this area — or catching a 3-D movie at the IMAX.”
She said the allure of the area boils down to this: “Panama City has the class and elegance of big cities, but with a small town, homey feel. I’ve not lived in any other place like it.”
Her particular niche is in the theaters, and she wanted to talk about the upcoming Kids Kamp at Kaleidoscope, the 11th annual. There are many summer camps in the area, including several that focus on theater, but she pointed out the Kaleidoscope camp is an all-volunteer effort.
“None of us at KT are lining our pockets with it,” she said. “I take my vacation to volunteer to direct and teach the kids every June. Harley, Lois (Carter) and I and several others have watched a lot of these kids grow up, and there’s nothing more I look forward to. Not even Christmas. Harley writes the shows for my group, and many times, since he knows the kids so well, will incorporate their personalities into the show.”
In a week’s time, these kids form bonds that last over the years. Some of them have even stayed with a local friend so they can attend the camp after their families moved to other states.
“One recently enlisted (in the military), and he ‘dropped in’ to hang with the group, even though he’s too old to attend,” she said. “Harley wrote him into the show at my request.”