You know what I (still) love about Chico?
You. The readers of the Chico Enterprise-Record. The people who subscribe to the paper, or go to the store to buy a copy, or navigate the online registration process so they can continue reading a publication that is the oldest operating business in our fine city of Chico.
Three weeks ago, in this very space and on this very page, I asked each of you a question: “What do you (still) love about Chico?” The idea was, for all of the bad things we hear about our town these days, there is still an awful lot of good — in an abundance you just don’t see in most places on this planet.
My fear was, the “good” was getting drowned out lately in a sea of negativity roiled up by a small number of people carrying really loud megaphones. And my hope was, enough of you would respond to fill up the entire A section of our Sunday paper three weeks down the road.
Typically, I needn’t have worried. Thanks to you, we had dozens of outstanding submissions in the hopper that very same day — so many that we couldn’t fit them all into one newspaper.
So, a few are going to be published in the days to come. And a couple will be online only. (I know I didn’t set a length limit, but 50 inches is long even by my long-winded standards.)
We also had a competition — a $200 gift certificate to a restaurant of your choice for whoever submitted what we considered “the best” entry about Chico. That winning entry, submitted by Sue Sites, appears on our front page next to my column.
Seriously, there were dozens of entries worthy of winning. So before you read the rest of this column, I beg you to flip through the pages and see what so many others had to say about Chico. And then come back and read the rest of this column, where I’m going to list some things I still love about Chico — things you just won’t find elsewhere to such a magnificent degree.
The faces, and the way we instantly recognize and appreciate so many of them.
Dutch Bros., especially the Park Avenue location that has kept our staff fueled and hitting deadlines for so many years. (They gave me a much-needed boost Saturday morning while I was finishing all of this up, and as always, regardless of how busy they were, every employee in the building had a smile on their face and a song on their lips.)
The Esplanade. There’s no other main drag as beautiful in the state.
Fifth Street Steakhouse. (Anybody noticing a trend here? I mean, if your town can’t conjure up a great place to eat or drink every other entry on your list, well … you’re just not Chico!)
KPAY, still and always a fantastic local radio station, featuring Mike Baca, as good of a play-by-play sports announcer as you’ll find anywhere in the country, and Dino Corbin, just a darned good all-around fellow.
Tres Hombres. Especially those margaritas. And, heck, a shout-out to Sergio!
The Chico Enterprise-Record. I was a devoted reader long before I became the editor, and I’ll always be thankful to men like Ted Blofsky, David Little and the late Skip Reager for showing me what a fantastic sports section (and overall newspaper) should look like all those years ago.
Shubert’s Ice Cream.
The advocates, and the officials. On all sides of every issue. You know who you are. My only quibble is I wish more of you did as good of a job speaking with each other as you do with me; but, today, I celebrate the fact that you all care so much.
Stoble Coffee. What an incredible downtown gem.
Wayne Cook. Every town should have a benefactor like him; almost none do.
Madison Bear Garden, despite the unforgivable sin of confusing so many of us with those “reverse” bathroom signs all those decades ago.
Every nook and cranny of Bidwell Park, and my apologies to the people who live near Five Mile for all the noise some of us made playing our guitars so late at night all those decades ago.
The Tackle Box. You have no idea how many times I regaled people in my Bay Area days by saying “No, honest, where I’m from, there’s a place that sells firearms on one side of the building and runs a full-service bar and dance floor on the other, all under the same roof.” The sporting goods store may be gone but, the Tackle Box remains a unique slice of Chico, and I mean that in a good way.
My wife, Sherrie. OK, she’s a Fall River native and a Corning girl but got her upper education at Chico State, so she counts!
The hot dog guy who used to have his cart parked near Bidwell Mansion on the Chico State campus. I miss that guy. And his hot dogs. Anybody know where he went?
Beatniks Coffee House and Restaurant Joint.
Every single one of our public safety officials who do an incredible job in an era where it’s practically trendy to dislike public safety officials.
S&S Organic Produce and Natural Foods. It’s like a slice of every corner of Chico all under one roof.
Chico Computer Clinic, where they still feature the kind of service we used to expect from a small-town locally owned business.
The Rice Bowl. The first Chinese restaurant I ate at 50 years ago, and forever my favorite.
And finally … the fact that I conjured up this idea and one of the entries came from none other than Janet Ford, whose husband, Mike Ford, was my high school English teacher and the first to put the idea into my head about working for a newspaper all those years ago. I’ve never forgotten, and I still appreciate it.
I could go on. And on and on and on. But today, I’m leaving that to you. I hope you read every word in the A section and for just one glorious day, celebrate all that is great about Chico.
And then, go out and live it.
Mike Wolcott is editor of the Enterprise-Record. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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