thank you: eddie bumbaugh.

burgIMG_6608Some debts are simply too large to repay. Sometimes, “thank you” falls impossibly short. Sometimes, a person’s influence, impact, and value are too large to accurately measure.

By now you’ve likely heard the news: our beloved Eddie Bumbaugh, the 12-year Executive Director of the Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance, will retire from the position as 2015 draws to a close. However, and thankfully for all of us, from the sounds of it, he’s not retiring all the way. In hopes of getting all the juicy details, Brandy and I decided to take his wife, Jane, and him out for dinner recently.

Alas, even after a belly full of delicious Food Bar Food dinner and a cocktail, he wouldn’t expound specifically on his next step, stating only that he’ll “remain involved in the Harrisonburg community.” Brandy and I, happy to simply be breathing again, decided to be satisfied with this answer and just enjoy our evening with them.

burgIMG_6595 burgIMG_6598I did come prepared with a few additional questions. When I asked Eddie what he’ll miss the most about HDR, he replied immediately with “the staff.” He delivered several heart-warming compliments about his co-workers (not his underlings or subordinates or minions, but his co-workers) and their commitment and passion and enthusiasm that have made reporting to work each day joyful. He also revealed a real fondness for the excitement of new ideas and the planning of events – indeed, his eyes twinkled a bit when he spoke of these things.

He counts the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo, a 100+ mile bicycle group ride, race, and festival that runs through and around the Burg, among his favorite Harrisonburg events because it allows him to experience our community through the eyes of people who aren’t from here. The race draws cyclists from all over the United States – many have never seen, Eddie says, “Old Order Mennonites or our beautiful skyline.” He likes the event because he likes to meet new people, and he likes anything that will encourage people to visit the Friendly City. Oh, and he likes to bicycle, too.

From there, most of our dinner conversation centered around travel and nature. You may or may not have known that Eddie is an avid cyclist and runner, a lot of which he does right here in the Shenandoah Valley because of its natural eye candy. He and Jane have hiked a hefty portion of the Appalachian Trail. The four of us had a lot of fun sharing hiking and road trip stories. Jane, too, is quite adventurous.

Jane took a trip to Iceland with a bunch of seventh-graders, prompting Brandy and me to shout things like, “What?!” “Are you crazy??” “Are you OKAY??” at her. They were there about a week, which seemed to me to be a very short amount of time to visit a foreign country, given all the travel time involved. But guess what? It’s only like a five-hour flight! Anyway, what an amazing experience for those youngsters!! Thank goodness for people like Jane! So brave and generous, even though she will tell you it’s not all that hard and anyone can do it. These two seem to be a match made in heaven with their incredible kindness, their willingness to try new and even risky ventures, and their ability to listen and compromise. Even in our relatively short conversation with the couple, Brandy and I could see those traits, shining clear as the candles on the table.

burgIMG_6624So now I’m finally getting to what I’ve wanted to do since I heard the news about Eddie’s impending departure: say Thank You.

Dear Eddie,
Harrisonburg and its citizens will never be able to repay you for the transformation that occurred under your leadership. I remember Harrisonburg twelve years ago, before you took the job. I remember seeing Dokken at a downtown establishment that was trying, really trying, to get on its feet. I remember when the Dodger, Joker’s, and The Little Grill were the only nightlife downtown, and no one walked to those places, at least not leisurely. I remember it felt like a lost cause. Thank you for ignoring all those who told you that the armpit of the city would never be the heart. They told you, “Don’t bother getting involved. We’ve tried it before. It’ll just be a waste of time, a disappointment.” Thank you for being the type of person to take those comments as a challenge. Thank you for also being the kind of person to listen, to contemplate and reflect, to consider the opinions and needs of others, and to bring everyone together with open communication and constructive conversations.

The evidence of your hard work shines for all to see now, twelve years later. Today when I go downtown, the streets are lit up. Delicious aromas waft out of dozens of restaurants. I can hear live music around every corner. There’s a good beer waiting for me about every five steps. And I am perfectly comfortable letting my kids wander around on their own – watching the ducks behind Clementine and SBC, walking to the library for new books, swinging into Bella Gelato for a treat, buying blueberries at the Farmers Market, and finding old Mom reading a book at Pale Fire when they’re all done with their adventure. :) Thank you for making my city safe for my children. If it weren’t, we would have left long ago.

I haven’t even touched upon the many events and activities we all enjoy now. Beer and music festivals, art markets, First Fridays, costume bike parades, Valley Fourth… too many to name. Not to mention the local retail options we now have, so we don’t have to shop at those “big stores.”

I don’t know what’s harder when taking a new job: inheriting a mess that you have to clean up, or inheriting something beautiful that you have to maintain and somehow improve upon. We know your successor cannot replace you, and we would not expect that. I imagine we’ll all expect more good things, because that’s what you’ve shown us. But we do not expect the accomplishment of “more good things” to happen in a vacuum. Those of us who live, work, and enjoy our downtown know that community growth happens through community involvement. We’ll stay involved, we’ll support local businesses, we’ll remember all that you’ve done to get us to this place, and we won’t let you down. We might not be able to pay you back, but we’ll pay it forward. We promise.

Cheers to you! Wishing you and Jane all the best, all the time! And don’t be a stranger.

All of Us. The Whole Dang Town. 

burgIMG_6612Copyright © 2012-15 · All Rights Reserved · Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

friendly faces, part 3: valley 4th photobooth.

The final crop of homegrown fourth-of-July photos by our lovely Brandy Somers! Thanks to the mascots who volunteered their time and sweated their fur and freckles off!

DukeDogWeb117 DukeDogWeb118 DukeDogWeb119 DukeDogWeb120 DukeDogWeb121 DukeDogWeb122 DukeDogWeb123 DukeDogWeb124 DukeDogWeb125 DukeDogWeb126 DukeDogWeb127 DukeDogWeb128 DukeDogWeb129 DukeDogWeb130 DukeDogWeb131 DukeDogWeb132 DukeDogWeb133 DukeDogWeb134 DukeDogWeb135 DukeDogWeb136 DukeDogWeb137 DukeDogWeb138 DukeDogWeb139 DukeDogWeb140 DukeDogWeb141 DukeDogWeb142 DukeDogWeb143 DukeDogWeb144 DukeDogWeb145 DukeDogWeb146 DukeDogWeb147 DukeDogWeb148 DukeDogWeb149 DukeDogWeb150 DukeDogWeb151 DukeDogWeb152 DukeDogWeb153 DukeDogWeb154 DukeDogWeb155 DukeDogWeb156 DukeDogWeb157 DukeDogWeb158 DukeDogWeb159 DukeDogWeb160 DukeDogWeb161 DukeDogWeb162 DukeDogWeb163 DukeDogWeb164 DukeDogWeb165 DukeDogWeb166 DukeDogWeb167 DukeDogWeb168 DukeDogWeb169 DukeDogWeb170 DukeDogWeb171 DukeDogWeb172 DukeDogWeb173 DukeDogWeb174 DukeDogWeb175Copyright © 2012-13 · All Rights Reserved · Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

friendly city faces, part 2: valley 4th photobooth.

Here’s another batch of photos Brandy cooked up for your enjoyment! See someone you know? Please let them know we’ve featured him or her!

DukeDogWeb061 DukeDogWeb062 DukeDogWeb063 DukeDogWeb064 DukeDogWeb065 DukeDogWeb066 DukeDogWeb067 DukeDogWeb068 DukeDogWeb069 DukeDogWeb070 DukeDogWeb071 DukeDogWeb072 DukeDogWeb073 DukeDogWeb074 DukeDogWeb075 DukeDogWeb076 DukeDogWeb077 DukeDogWeb078 DukeDogWeb079 DukeDogWeb080 DukeDogWeb081 DukeDogWeb082 DukeDogWeb083 DukeDogWeb084 DukeDogWeb085 DukeDogWeb086 DukeDogWeb087 DukeDogWeb088 DukeDogWeb089 DukeDogWeb090 DukeDogWeb091 DukeDogWeb092 DukeDogWeb093 DukeDogWeb094 DukeDogWeb095 DukeDogWeb096 DukeDogWeb097 DukeDogWeb098 DukeDogWeb099 DukeDogWeb100 DukeDogWeb101 DukeDogWeb102 DukeDogWeb103 DukeDogWeb104 DukeDogWeb105 DukeDogWeb106 DukeDogWeb107 DukeDogWeb108 DukeDogWeb109 DukeDogWeb110 DukeDogWeb111 DukeDogWeb112 DukeDogWeb113 DukeDogWeb114 DukeDogWeb115 DukeDogWeb116Copyright © 2012-13 · All Rights Reserved · Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

friendly city faces, part 1: valley 4th photobooth.

Brandy volunteered for several hot, sweaty hours at this year’s Valley 4th celebration, taking adorable photos of YOU, Harrisonburg! Here’s the first batch of three. Enjoy!

DukeDogWeb001 DukeDogWeb002 DukeDogWeb003 DukeDogWeb017 DukeDogWeb018 DukeDogWeb019 DukeDogWeb020DukeDogWeb004 DukeDogWeb005 DukeDogWeb013 DukeDogWeb016DukeDogWeb021 DukeDogWeb022 DukeDogWeb023 DukeDogWeb024 DukeDogWeb025 DukeDogWeb026 DukeDogWeb027 DukeDogWeb028DukeDogWeb007 DukeDogWeb008 DukeDogWeb014 DukeDogWeb015DukeDogWeb029 DukeDogWeb030 DukeDogWeb031 DukeDogWeb032 DukeDogWeb033 DukeDogWeb034 DukeDogWeb035 DukeDogWeb036DukeDogWeb009DukeDogWeb037 DukeDogWeb038 DukeDogWeb039 DukeDogWeb040 DukeDogWeb041 DukeDogWeb042 DukeDogWeb043 DukeDogWeb044DukeDogWeb045 DukeDogWeb046 DukeDogWeb047 DukeDogWeb048 DukeDogWeb049 DukeDogWeb050 DukeDogWeb051 DukeDogWeb052DukeDogWeb053 DukeDogWeb054 DukeDogWeb055 DukeDogWeb056 DukeDogWeb057 DukeDogWeb058 DukeDogWeb059 DukeDogWeb060Copyright © 2012-13 · All Rights Reserved · Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.