Took a little trip with some friends this past weekend…to Lady Lake, Florida. Most people have never heard of Lady Lake, Florida but just say “The Villages” and everybody knows where you’re talking. I’ve heard lots of chatter about this place called “The Villages”, most of it quite positive, some of it not so positive….but a lot of talk, a lot of stories and I just had to check it out.
The place is billed as “Florida’s Friendliest Hometown” and in some ways, it really is…which I’ll explain in a moment. But this place is huge…..I mean freekin’ ginormous…and it’s still growing. It’s certainly not a Village (as I remember villages in New England). It’s too big to be a town (even though it’s Florida’s Friendliest Hometown). Thirty eight (38) golf courses, more than thirty-five thousand (yes 35,000) golf carts which are used not just for golf, but for public transportation, requiring an on-site hospital and at least one law firm dedicated to handling golf cart accidents. (Slip and fall lawyers are huge in Florida…even the ambulance drivers are afraid of these chasers!!) More than 10-square miles of land and upwards of 90-thousand people living there, with more coming apparently….and you want to call this a “village.” I don’t think so. It’s a 55+ community, meaning you’ve got to be at least 55 years old to buy there, but the part I find strange is….the median age is going down all the time and their school system is huge and growing. I’m talking state-of-the-art schools, elementary and high school. Maybe that explains why they call The Villages, Florida’s ACTIVE ADULT community……active being the key word here. Besides more than three dozen golf courses, there are softball diamonds on every other street corner, bocci courts all over the place and even polo grounds. I didn’t see any horses anywhere but I assume they play polo there. They used to have buffalo roaming the various fields but all it takes is one knucklehead to stick his hand thru the fence….get bitten by a buffalo, bring in the slip-and-fall or stupid-and-bite-me lawyers and that was the end of buffalo in The Villages.
There are two major town squares in this 10-square mile village and that’s where you see the true meaning of “active adult” community, particularly in the evening. As I strolled through the square looking for a restaurant, about 7:30 in the p.m., a live music performance was blaring from the gazebo/bandstand, a couple of hundred 55-plussers were standing and sitting around clapping to the music, a couple of dozen others were dancing the Hokey Pokey or what-the-hell ever you want to call it, definitely doing the hanky-panky (a lot of clutchin’ and grabbin’ goin’ on) and you didn’t have to go into a bar or restaurant to get a cocktail. Nope….self standing bars right there on the outside…all sides of the gazebos ready to pour whatever libation you want or need to get your 55+ groove on. (in a plastic to-go cup of course)
Florida’s Friendliest Hometown? Could be!!!!