Something To Do

There’s simply no debate: Larger metropolitan areas provide a multiplicity of leisure activities and options for their residents and guests, especially when compared to towns of 15,000 people or less.

Want to spend two hours jumping your brains out at Sky Zone? Fork over $15 to $20 and bounce away.

In the mood for a movie? Take your pick, from up-to-the-minute blockbusters viewed from luxurious recliners to classics screened at discount theaters.

Art galleries, museums, upscale bars, restaurants, professional sporting contests–you name it, you can probably find it in the Twin Cities, Chicago, Omaha or, to a somewhat lesser extent, Sioux Falls, Sioux City or Mankato.

Nevertheless, one gripe that’s wearing thin on social media is “There’s nothing to do here,” with most of those fingers pointing at the closing of the local bowling alley (a common loss in many communities of late), the ongoing lack of a movie theater and a vanished mall.

At the risk of sounding like the little old lady I’m increasingly becoming, “I remember when…..” And what I remember is my Mankato-area adolescent and teenage peers complaining there was “nothing to do” in that relative metropolis, which was nevertheless booming with malls, movies, parks, an ice arena, a state university and numerous entertainment venues.

Somehow, Maud Hart Lovelace found “enough” to do in Mankato from 1898-1910 to pen the entire Betsy-Tacy series. Even more astounding, Laura Ingalls Wilder turned a hard-scrabble pioneer life in Kansas, western Wisconsin, southwest Minnesota and South Dakota into the “Little House” books that remain in print to this day and have spawned movies, television shows and theater musicals. Library wings and book awards have been named for these authors, who amazingly found plenty of excitement and social engagement in climbing hills, going to church and school, rolling up living room rugs to dance with friends and occasionally visiting a candy store or two. No “Game of Thrones” to fill in their quiet moments; not even radio existed then, and still they spent full and lively days.

So forgive me for not being more sympathetic to the pain of those who, in this day and age of computers, cell phones, Netflix, iPads, wall-size TVs, video games, cars, athletic clubs and gadgets galore, continue to complain “there’s nothing for us/our kids to do here.”

My diagnosis: Tiny imaginations, short attention spans, laziness and, possibly, a complete disregard for and unawareness of the array of community events swirling around them even as they lament from the comfort of their computer or cell phone keyboards.

Next week marks the annual King Turkey Day celebration, so of course more than usual will be taking place. Well, take advantage of it and go to something!

On Saturday, a brand new “Worthington Park Hop” (sponsored by the Optimist Club and Johnson Builders and Realtors) occurred, giving everyone an excuse to explore some of the town’s 27 parks.

Or how about showing support for Worthington High School athletics? Every boys’ soccer game delivers guaranteed thrills and a high level of skills, and so far this season, they’re undefeated.

Consider coming out to see the cross country team’s lone home meet of the season on Thursday afternoon at the former Prairie View golf course. From 4 to 6 p.m. that day, all comers are invited to purchase burgers and more from the team’s concession stand, with proceeds being used to buy warm-ups for each of the 60+ runners.

And Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center has a nine-month lineup of diverse entertainment offerings, starting with the award-winning OK Go on Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. (Call 507-376-9101 for tickets.)

Having been one of the 254,431 people at the Minnesota State Fair on Sept. 2, I’m wondering why it’s not dubbed “The Great Minnesota Squish-Together.” Overcrowding is not a problem in Worthington, with its 20-vehicle rush-hours, but neither is there “nothing to do” here.

Just do it.

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