We Don’t Care If Mark Zuckerberg Bought A House. Seriously. We Don’t.
It must have been a slow news day, because all I heard yesterday was how Facebook guru Mark Zuckerberg bought a house in Palo Alto. BFD people. Lots of rich nerds live in Palo Alto. This is not news. No one used to care which genius or gazillionaire lived next door and I should know … I was born and raised in Palo Alto.
We grew up on Greenwood Avenue and as that is my last name, you can imagine that in geek-central I got a lot of people asking if the street was named after my family. From as early as I can remember, I learned to count to three as my partner in conversation racked their brains for a possible connection, Greenwood Inc, no, Greenwood Tech, no, Greenwood Corp…hmmm… and then after letting them stew for a few, I’d break it to them that though an engineered coincidence, my family was not responsible for naming the street, only living on it.
Some things never change. And that’s a good thing.
Though technology has changed quite a bit in my 36 years, one thing has not. Today, Palo Alto held it’s 89th Annual May Fete Parade, and it was an amazing throwback to my favorite thing about growing up there. Underneath that yuppie exterior is a philosophy that lets kids be kids. Whether it’s the reigning geographical genius or the positive influence of good weather, or that entrepreneurial spirit that attracts people to this area, at the heart of Palo Alto is a core of parents that “get it.” They get that sometimes the simple things don’t need to be yuppified, techified, mediafied, monotized, or grownupafied. Sometimes a fire truck, horses, balloons, bikes with streamers, bubbles, best friends, dogs, costumes, and marching bands are all it takes to make you forget all your worries.
A parade does not need a corporate sponsor, thank you very much.
In a town that gets a bad rap (and not wholly undeserved) for overdoing stuff, they still know how to do a parade. Families strolling along on a Saturday morning, schools showing off their simple floats, the occasional toddler wiping out, this is what it’s all about. Okay, so there was an electric car club, and I did overhear a parent offering his child $5 to just keep walking in the parade, and yes there were a couple of designer jogging outfits, but as a whole, it was just as it was the last time I attended nearly 20 years ago.
This morning I got to hang with one of my best friends who was visiting from out-of-town. We sat on the curb outside of the Channing House, where seniors who were able, sat along the street to view the fete as it went by, and those not as mobile were able to watch from the windows of their rooms. I was able to share a surprisingly nostalgic moment with my friend and her two young children as the elementary school we met at (in third grade) came by, our junior high passed, and finally our high school. Though generations have spanned, how refreshing that in that moment, nothing had changed. A good reminder that no matter how fast time seems to fly, at least we can count on one day a year in Palo Alto to freeze it for us.
So, welcome to the neighborhood Mark Zuckerberg. If you F with my parade I’ll destroy you. And, if you need a good dry cleaning or bike shop recommendation, call me. I know people.