Friday, November 7, 2008

The Kind of Neighbors You Want

On Halloween night, I lost my keys. I was in the Leesburg Parade, and was convinced I had lost them somewhere along the parade route. After days of trying to find them, I finally resolved myself to the thought that they were gone forever. I was thinking of the hassle and money it would cost to replace those silly fobs and tokens, car remotes, changing the locks on my house...ugh.

This morning, my husband came back from taking my daughter to the bus stop, and he had a notice in his hand. It was a posting about a set of keys that had been found. Even though I was convinced that the keys had not been lost in my own neighborhood, I called. Sure enough, a neighbor had my keys! Coincidentally, it was the neighbor that moved into a house on the other end of my street, one I sold just a few months ago. In talking to her, she said she had newspaper ads coming out this week... she was so worried about returning those keys to the rightful owner (who she assumed was a stranger). Knowing what is involved with losing a set of keys like that, she was determined to find the rightful owner. Wow, these are the kinds of neighbors you want.

I was really touched... you simply don't see people taking that much time to worry about a stranger. Yet again today, I had another reason to be thankful for the people that touch my life.

It reminded me of our first weekend in this neighborhood, 8 years ago. We didn't have cable hooked up yet, so we had rented movies from Blockbuster. Apparently, while getting the kids in the car to run errands, my husband placed the movies on the top of the SUV, and forgot them. When he drove away, they fell into the street behind him. After getting to Blockbusters, and realizing he didn't have the movies, he was confused. He returned to the house to search high and low for the now missing movies (and, remember, we'd just moved, so the house was total chaos). He found them nowhere. Retracing his steps, we realized he must have left them on the top of the SUV, but they were gone now.

On Monday, my husband went to Blockbuster with his tail between his legs to beg forgiveness and pay the fine. Imagine our surprise when he was told someone had returned them, and on time! (This was amazing because in those days, the movies had to be returned by noon to be "on time" and we didn't leave the house until 11 that morning.) A random person, a stranger to us then (years later we found out who it was), had gone out of their way to return the movies on our behalf.

In the 8 years we've lived here, many such episodes have occurred. And, yet, when I am selling homes in my very own neighborhood, I've yet to figure out how to truly convey to people that, somehow, we here in Ashton Downs live in a sort of oasis. Everyone - and I mean EVERYONE here is just good. They're the kind of neighbors you want. How can you put that into a property brochure or explain it to a buyer? I still haven't found the right approach, but I am trying.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween in Leesburg

When we moved to Leesburg, no one told us how different Halloween would be. Here, on “All Hallowed Eve”, children dress in their costumes, lining the streets of downtown Leesburg, to collect treats thrown to them from passing parade floats. The parade is put on by the local Kiwanis club, and this year, everyone in attendance was asked to bring a canned food item to help fill our local food banks.

Most floats are sponsored by local businesses, who are having a little fun promoting their business and giving back to the communities they serve.I’m told that the Leesburg Halloween parade is the longest running in the country, which I think is kind of neat. I love to see old traditions remain strong. Here in Leesburg, I see no danger of this tradition ever going out of style. Every Halloween, if you live in Leesburg, you go the parade. EVERYone’s there. You’re IN the parade or AT the parade, but you’re there.
Now that we’ve been here 8 years, we’re finally getting the hang of it.In fact, the last 2 years, I’ve been IN the parade; on a float with my brokerage office, Keller Williams Realty of Leesburg. Last year, I drove our float - and it was among the most frightening halloween experiences I've ever had! You try driving a float while dodging 5 year olds who are playing chicken with your truck to get a Reese’s!

This year, I opted to walk along side the float, giving out candy, being careful to reward those children that obediently stood by their moms, despite the greatest of temptations. So, did you see us? What did you think? We didn’t win any awards… but we thought it looked great.

Can you believe our broker (Rick Cockrill) actually had these houses “lying around” as leftovers from a 4-H project he’d done with his son? It was a very easy assembly for us… and special thanks to local J & M Market on Rt 15 (think Pumpkinville) who donated all pumpkins, mums, corn stalks and more.

This year, our float was promoting a new web site launched by own of our very tech savvy agents, Steve Lieby. If you haven’t seen it, you should check it out…

I can not imagine how cool it would have been to have this parade experience as a child. My 2 and 5 year olds left the scene with bags FULL of candy! Pre-teens and teenagers can still get candy without being those annoying kids without costumes at your door on Halloween. I think it's fabulous.

By the time we returned home, two year old Spiderman was done for the night. Hanna Montana, on the other hand, had to take to the streets to see her fans.

Lucky for her, trick or treating in Leesburg starts AFTER the parade. Lucky for me, it doesn’t last long.