Explore the 254: Waco is only as lame as you make it

By Jenna Fitzgerald | Editor-in-Chief

At a little market in Belfast, Northern Ireland, I found myself completely enamored with the work of a local artist. His framed creations combined sea glass and driftwood that washed up on Irish beaches with decorative drawings and common sayings. I’m a sucker for a good cliche — from “find joy in the journey” to “I think I will just be happy today” — and I walked out with more than 10 pieces of art to scatter throughout my apartment and give to my friends.

Among the many glass frames I had to strategically pack in my suitcase, one in particular stood out to me: “Wherever life plants you, bloom with grace.”

I get it. Easy to say when you’re surrounded by natural marvels like the Cliffs of Moher — and when you’re only a two-hour flight from metropolitan cities like Paris, Amsterdam and Madrid. Not so easy to say when you’re pulling up to the Grease Pit for the third time this week and dodging endless road closures and traffic cones along the way.

Waco is no Dublin — but it doesn’t need to be. Every place is different. Every community has something unique to offer. To find that out, though, it takes intentional exploration.

It appears some Bears missed that memo. For years, I’ve heard student after student talk about how confinement in Waco is the greatest plight of attending school here. Sorry to break it to everybody, but that problem is entirely self-imposed.

This summer, one of my best friends and I celebrated what we lovingly called “a very Waco week.” Hitting every Waco staple known to man, we splurged a bit at the Magnolia Silos, toured the Waco Mammoth National Monument, sipped on a free soda at the Dr Pepper Museum, moseyed around the Waco Downtown Farmers Market and completed a hike through Cameron Park. We also made it a point to venture out to local restaurants we had never tried before.

Sure, you probably wouldn’t want to hit those spots more than a few times. Luckily, Waco has a host of events all throughout the year. From the Dia de los Muertos Parade to Westfest, from the Heart of Texas Fair and Rodeo to concerts by the Waco Symphony Orchestra, from the Western Belle Pumpkin Festival to Lights of West — there’s no shortage of activities to do. Need some inspiration? Check out the Lariat’s weekly “What to Do in Waco” column.

So stop being the Grinch of the 254. Recognize that it’s not the city’s job to give you jaw-dropping entertainment at every hour and that it’s your job to seek out activities. In the quiet moments in between, appreciate the calm pace of life. There will probably be a day when that is all you wish for.

A college town is like another hometown. For four years, you learn to navigate its roads, building friendships and memories along the way.

Life planted you in Waco. While you’re here, bloom with grace.