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The Villages
Thursday, July 29, 2021

Thinking out of the box to restart entertainment

To the Editor:

A while ago I submitted a Letter to the Editor, stating “We Need A New Normal in the Villages.” I received over 300 replies in 48 hours – and even more unique for internet forums – 95 percent were positive!
Since nothing has changed, I thought I should address some of the comments I received and expand on my suggestions.
• Golf Cart Drive In Movies: “It is too hot and it’s gets dark too late.” Some of my suggestions were meant to be future oriented. For example, golf cart drive in movies would only make sense in the fall and winter when it gets dark earlier. I understand that drive in movies have been done in the past. Let’s resurrect the idea!
• Outdoor Concerts: “Outdoor concerts won’t work. They were tried and cancelled due to lack of ticket sales”: I really don’t know why the concerts scheduled for this past July were cancelled. Evidently, though, the logistics of how to have the concerts had been worked out. However, I think they were designed for failure. Let’s correct the mistakes and try them again:
1. Let’s open the gates at 7 p.m. with concerts starting at 8 pm (like the second shows at the Savannah Center (instead of opening the gates at 5 pm in July when the temperature is still 90 degrees with little shade!)
2. Space out the concerts so we only have one a week or every two weeks. (My wife and I love concerts but would never pay for a concert five nights in a row like was offered.)
3. Make them reasonably priced instead of charging $50 or more for a ticket on average when tickets at the Savannah Center are less.
• Rethink Entertainment at the Squares: “Closing down the squares to traffic would hurt the merchants”: If you have visited any of the squares lately, they are a ghost town and the restaurants at Spanish Springs are dropping like flies (three down and more to come)! Let’s try some new ideas.
1. Temporarily close down the squares to automobile traffic and allow only golf carts starting at 4 pm. Mandate that only one cart can occupy a parking space.
2. Set up tables with two or four chairs (like they do for special events) for seating instead of single chairs.
3. Allow BYOB so we don’t have long lines at the Bar huts.
If nightly entertainment is allowed at Ednas’ on the Green, surely, we can figure out how to restart entertainment at the squares!
• Plan and Construct Lazy Rivers. -“How many lazy rivers would you have for 130,000 residents and where would you put them?”: Right now we have several examples of “one of a kind” amenities that seem to accommodate our population: pitch and put course, 18 hole putting green, Marsh Bend food trucks. Ideally, it would be great to have one lazy river north (new First Responder Rec Center?) and south (new lifestyle center just announced?) Contrary to one comment I received, they DO NOT attract alligators.
• “The Developer would never consider these ideas because of the cost and eating into profits”: I have read that only about one-third of the Villages residents are regular golfers. The would lead you to assume that two-thirds of the residents bought here because of the entertainment in the squares, the “oldies” concerts, the 3,000 clubs, etc. Right now, none of these activities are happening. As some of you commented, that is why you bought or are thinking of buying here. The longer these amenities are missing, the more their lack will impact the two-thirds majority who might buy here. Unfortunately, without those amenities, The Villages becomes just another series of cookie cutter, golfing developments.

Dennis Michael
Cottages at Summerchase

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