Defining Great

When it comes to neighborhoods, great means many things. It’s probably easier to show than tell.

I live in a pretty great area. From the deck, I could drop a fishing line into Brandywine Creek. A beautiful park designed by Frederick Law Olmstead is right across the street. So is a row of recently restored historic homes. When the Wilmington Grand Prix comes to town, prime viewing is a 10-minute stroll away. So is the Christmas parade. All the great shopping and dining the city has to offer is at my fingertips, and an entrance ramp to I-95 is less than a mile from the front gate.

Such considerations factor heavily into the choices of towns and neighborhoods in this month’s “Great Places to Live” feature (page 46), because there is more to a great home than the housing stock. There is the physical character of a place, schools, convenient shopping and entertainment, easy transportation and, of course, something of an intangible: a civic spirit.

I see it in the work of the Friends of Brandywine Park every time I walk past the new Sugar Bowl. I hear it when the bagpipers are practicing in the parking lot of St. Patrick’s Church, preparing for the St. Patty’s Day parade. I feel it when people are strolling into Colourworks next door for an Art Loop exhibit and when everyone heads toward the senior center on Election Day.

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My neighborhood, lower Brandywine Village, didn’t make our list. Nor did a gang of other great places to live. When you think hard about it, the state is full of them. We forced ourselves to pick two neighborhoods in Wilmington because they are truly unsung. But how do you pick two discrete areas of Newark? There is a city with spirit: parades, Community Day, Newark Night, a wine festival—I could go on. It is truly a wonderful place to be.

The same goes in Rehoboth. Lest anyone doubt that this once mostly summer town is now a real community, I offer the Sea Witch Festival and other celebrations and events, an active group of resident merchants, homes for everyone from young families to empty-nesters, and communities within communities—musicians, artists, outdoor enthusiasts.

Who in central Kent County doesn’t want to attend the big Dover High-Caesar Rodney football matchup? The same kind of tradition has begun between Middletown and Appoquinimink. They may be rivalries, but friendly competition brings people together to make a place great—as do other intangibles, such as an abiding respect for the history of Old New Castle. That is a town full of very proud residents. Ditto in Bethel.

So read on and enjoy. And if you think we missed your great place, please let me know at or

Mark’s Day Book
  • Two big thank yous: First to Jill Quale of WJBR for serving as mistress of ceremonies at DT’s annual Women in Business luncheon at the Chase Center, second to Ellen Kullman, first woman CEO of the DuPont Company and our amazing keynote speaker. You both made the 2009 event the best yet. I’m not sure how we’ll top that this year…
  • The annual Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce dinner at the Atlantic Sands always goes too quickly. A couple of folks I didn’t get a chance to catch: candidate for state treasurer Chip Flowers, former author of The Payne Corner at the DT Website, and Tim Winstead of U.S. Senator Tom Carper’s office. Thank you, Carol Everhart, for mailing the keychain.
  • Happy 60th to our friend Fred Bourdon, proprietor of the Jackson Inn and DT party photographer extraordinaire. It was quite a celebration.

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