Why Orange City: Sarah Weber

Sarah Weber grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, and later lived and worked in Omaha, Nebraska. A job opportunity led Sarah and her husband to Orange City, and the community has been home for their family for the past eleven years. Sarah lives and works in Orange City is an active volunteer in the community. Below, she shares her experience living in Orange City.

Describe your lifestyle in Orange City.

We are very active. We have three young children, and there are a tremendous amount of great activities for the whole family to participate in. The Orange City Public Library offers story time and craft hours for my four-year-old child and fun pre-teen activities for our pre-teen. I participated in the library’s mystery dinner theater recently, and it was a great night out.

Orange City is a town with many churches and each offer community to those who attend. We attend a larger church in town and participate in Sunday service, Wednesday night youth activities, church-wide dinners, game nights, summer picnics, campfires and more.

Summer recreation programs are also something we look forward to every year, and the amount of things you can participate in are limitless. When my son was just three years old, we did a mom-and-me art class. Now he plays roller hockey, baseball and geocaching. My daughters also play softball, and Orange City also offers blast ball–a beginning class for t-ball where the bases squeak when they jump on them. So fun.

We spend hours at the pool, and because it is a small town, the lifeguards know our kids by name and eagerly greet them when come to the pool. Also during the summer, Orange City Arts offers a free concert in the park every Wednesday evening. There is a variety of music from all over the country, and sometimes from all over the world. It’s a perfect setting to relax and meet new people. Arts on Central in August is a highlight for my kids, where they shut down Central Avenue and have a variety of art and craft projects for kids to explore.

For you, what’s one of Orange City’s greatest strengths?

I can’t say enough about our schools. The teachers take the time to really know the kids, invest in them, and want them to succeed. My son was diagnosed with dyslexia in the third grade. The school didn’t offer any specific programs that would meet his need, but were overly accommodating to me and helped me find time to come in and tutor him to help improve his reading. The teacher helped with a different testing method to make sure he was reading the information correctly, and they checked in, showed concerned, and I could tell they wanted him to do well as much as I did. I couldn’t have asked for more.

The schools all work so well together. We have Northwestern College in town and in April they are putting on a free program with STEM activities their education department developed and will display and allow our local preschoolers to come and explore for free. Events like this go on all the time.

What has surprised you the most about living in Orange City?

How quickly I adapted to living in a small town. I grew up in Kansas City, and then Omaha, so it was very different, but I can’t imagine raising my kids anywhere else. They bike all over town, we know our neighbors well and look out for each other. There are more activities than we have time to do, and going to the grocery store and being greeted by name, to really be known and cared for by so many people in the community means a lot. I never want to live in a large city again.

What do you most enjoy about the community?

Just the community as a whole. Everyone is committed to making the town thrive, stay interesting and engaging for all residents at every stage of life. I feel like the Orange City Public Library, Orange City Arts Council, and City of Orange City are all constantly coming up with new programming, new concerts, ideas, and we are always excited to participate.

What makes Orange City unique from other places you’ve lived?

Just about everything. The people that live here love living here. They are proud of their town and it shows. The Tulip Festival displays this beautifully. We aren’t from here and do not come from a Dutch background, but we happily participate along with everyone else in town. It takes hours of time and preparation to make the festival work, and it is a beautiful time to sit back and really watch an entire town pull together and do something amazing year after year.

What should others outside of Orange City or those considering a move to Orange City know?

Jump right in. This town has many traditions and culture that have been a part of the town since its foundation, but that shouldn’t intimidate anyone. People love their heritage, and most are very eager to talk about it, share it, and bring others into the fold. A weekly Advisor goes around, and that was how I first started getting information. This is a weekly free paper with all the happenings in town. It is delivered in the mail and a good way for someone who is new to get involved. There is plenty to do!