Let us Rejoice

By Wendy Pollitzer

‘Tis the time of year for personal and communal reflection. How calming and peaceful it is to recognize acts of goodwill and gestures of kindness during this season of merriment. No matter the faith you practice, the Holidays are a time of giving and appreciation for all that you’ve been given.

As a community, we in Beaufort should rejoice. We have a diverse population eager to make this coastal town better for our children in so many different ways.

We have members of The United States Marine Corps serving critical needs in Beaufort, boosting our local economy and bringing a youthful enthusiasm to town. And all the while, they or their loved ones continue to serve overseas proudly and honorably without thought of self, only Country.

We salute people like Steve Danyluk, retired U.S. Marine and founder of the Independence Fund who worked diligently throughout 2010 to bring the Lt. Dan Band to Beaufort during the Shrimp Festival in order to raise money for wounded veterans.

And we also salute Ivey Liipfert, a civilian working at MCAS, who has been working all year to bring the popular Air Show to Beaufort in the Spring. Thank you Steve and Ivey for facilitating these memorable events that remind us of the sacrifices our Military and their loved ones make every day.

In addition to our USMC family, Beaufort is blessed to have Gullah ancestries who are stalwart preservationists of their African linguistic and cultural heritage. The Gullah culture in Beaufort dominates over most coastal towns in South Carolina and Southeast Georgia, which is why we are fortunate to be able to host the oldest and largest Gullah celebration in May, “The Original Gullah Festival.”

In September, Beaufort lost a pioneer in Gullah preservation. Rosalie Pazant, founder of the Gullah Festival, passed away at the age of 93. In 1986, Pazant and some friends started to reminisce about how African Americans used to celebrate Memorial Day, or Decoration Day, in years passed. Shortly thereafter, the Gullah Festival was born to celebrate the vibrant culture. Mother of seven, grandmother of 16, great-grandmother of 26 and great-great grandmother of eight, Pazant was a matriarch of the Gullah heritage. Rosalie, you will be dearly missed.

Also living in Beautiful Beaufort by the Sea are retirees from all walks of life and from all over the country. You have chosen our Lowcountry isle to call home, and we couldn’t be more welcoming and happy you’re here. Many of you choose to lead the peaceful and quiet life you rightfully deserve on the nearby golf courses or in the downtown restaurants. You bring your families and friends from all over the world to Beaufort, introducing them to the beauty and charm you fell in love with years ago. We get to meet your loved ones here and there, and hopefully our hospitality will inspire them to return.

And then there are those who don’t want to settle down and enjoy retired life. People like Bonnie Wright, President of the Friends of Hunting Island, just keep going and going, like the Energizer Bunny. Beaufort salutes and thanks you too. There are so many of you, like Bonnie, who selflessly and tirelessly serve on a number of Boards to make Beaufort a better place to live.

And then we have old Beaufort, who has always graciously accepted new people to town. They’ve also encouraged their children to explore distant opportunities, confident that they’d return to Beaufort one day, appreciative of the salt in their blood. Their histories intertwine, and their family trees connect at the roots and limbs. They are a unique breed that has established an order and class in Beaufort that, quite frankly, has become internationally noted and admired.

We salute people like Chilton Grace Simmons, who has this class, who exudes everything positive about Beaufort and welcomes people to town with open arms and an inviting cocktail. Simmons, a mother of two and Partner at Hood Law Firm in Charleston always finds the time to send a quick email to check on a friend, arrange a dinner so the new person in town can meet others and still manages to look great! If we didn’t have people like Chilton in Beaufort, we’d lose our ability to attract the world.

There are so many people in this small town of ours that make Beaufort so special. Each of you deserves praise, and you should be very proud to call Beaufort home. I’d like to conclude this Holiday message by paying tribute to one more Beaufortonian who has given Beaufort the best gift anyone could ever give…waterfront property to all.

Henry C. Chambers, former Mayor of Beaufort, had the vision and resolve many years ago to replace dilapidated docks behind the businesses on Bay Street with a Waterfront Park. Mayor Chambers, you have given us a gift that keeps on giving.

Everyone I described above and many more use the park everyday as a means to play, reflect, converse, eat, sleep, swing, you name it. We take the time for personal reflection in a park you created Mr. Chambers. Thank you.

As I write this at my new home on Charles Street, I hear the bells at the Parish Church of St. Helena’s ring eight times. They remind me of my faith.

My faith is Christianity, a religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. His birthday is December 25th. On this day, Christmas, I celebrate the beginning of a glorious crusade for truth and forgiveness, attributes from my faith that allow me to heal when times are tough and rejoice when life is good.

Let us rejoice. Merry Christmas.

Santa’s elves, Gracie Gecy, Caylin Gecy, and Blakely Gecy pose with Santa. The elves are almost done with their work, but Santa has a busy weekend ahead of him! Thanks Gecy girls for all your help.

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