“If you build it, they will come,” said a voice from the Heavens to Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella in the 1989 classic "Field of Dreams."
And while that might have worked out just fine for Kinsella and his magical baseball diamond in the corn, it did not appear to be the case at the Holiday Park Social Center in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday.
The center, along with three other area city recreational facilities, was opened to all on Sunday as “Rest and Relaxation Center,” providing cool conditions, water, and ice on a hot, muggy day when some residents are still lacking sufficient cooling options post-Hurricane Irma.
As the temperatures soared to 90, it was delightfully cool inside. And, indeed, there were clean bathroom facilities and water. The only problem? Nobody was there to take advantage of it.
The staff there told me that aside from two reporters, not a single person had been in all day.
But things were, nevertheless, busy. On the same grounds, just steps away, is the city’s War Memorial Auditorium, where the parking area was flush with cars, and a steady stream of people was coming in and out of the building.
As I made my way toward the entrance, Ken Roman from Pembroke Pines, spotting my radio microphone, rolled down his window to chat. “What brings you out here today?” I asked. “The gun show,” he replied.
Roman wasn’t alone. Inside were hundreds of customers, browsing guns, knives, ammo and related accouterments at the Florida Gun Shows expo, including Rick Olson of Coral Springs.
“In this area, there’s usually a gun show somewhere every week,” he explained.
Even on the heels of a historic hurricane. This weekend, like many area residents, Olson spent time dealing with the damage left in Irma’s wake.
“I spent yesterday cleaning up and I’m almost through,” he said. “I had a tree that was down and a lot of debris that was in the yard.”
But today, he said, felt remarkably like regular life. “It goes on,” he said.
Felix Noda agreed. As he walked to his car with a new AR-15, Noda told me he rode the storm out in Virginia, and returned to his home in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday.
“Thank God, nothing got affected. Everything was good.” he said. “It feels normal. [It’s like] nothing has happened. We’re getting ready for the next storm, just in case.”