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Why I love Albert Lea

Why I love Albert Lea by Shari Jenson

 

When I sat down to write this column and asked myself why I love Albert Lea, my mind went in a hundred different directions. I have amazing memories of growing up here — walking to and from Lakeview Elementary and Southwest Junior High with friends who are still friends today. I remember the joys and perils of high school at Albert Lea High School. And, I have the most special, countless memories at my family church, Grace Lutheran.

It’s hard to believe, with all those fond memories and feeling the way I feel now, that when I was young, I felt bored and confined in Albert Lea. I grew up and left for quite some time. Being away, experiencing life in much bigger cities, in the United States and some foreign countries, brought a lot of life experience, but more importantly, it brought perspective and an appreciation for my family, friends and my hometown. I love Albert Lea because it encompasses so many of the things that are important to me.

I love that Albert Lea is:

• A city of fun, family and friends. Although COVID has put a damper on things, I love the unique activities that Albert Lea offers: Wind Down Wednesday, performances at the Marion Ross theater, athletic events at the high school and City Arena, and the list goes on and on. I love that living and working in Albert Lea makes it easy to achieve a work-life balance. I love having time available to spend with family and friends every single day. 

• A city of beauty, health and wellness. My favorite view would be sunsets looking across Fountain Lake. I have so many memories of Fountain Lake, walking and biking around it, swimming, floating, boating and skating on it in the winter; and, now, it appears even more active than I remember. And, as an official Blue Zones Community, I love that the city is more bikeable and walkable than ever before.

• A small town with a strong sense of community. I love that everyone seems to step up in times of need. I love that we have Relay for Life and the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. I love that people are always leaving fresh vegetables and flowers from their garden on neighbors’ porches and that people are always fixing something for someone or helping out mowing lawns or shoveling. I love that strangers feel comfortable waving and smiling at one another.

• A city of potential and opportunity. Unlike big cities that have multiple stores and locations for what seems like everything, I love that Albert Lea has unique bars, restaurants and boutiques to frequent and additional space available for new businesses to move in. The amount of potential and opportunity in Albert Lea is very exciting to me. Rather than being just a number in the crowd, I love that it’s possible to be successful and make a difference here. I look forward to doing things that I’m passionate about and contributing to the future and the story of Albert Lea.

I’m a firm believer that home is where you make it, and I’m proud to say, this is my home and I love Albert Lea.

 

Shari Jenson is the new executive director of the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce. She was raised in Albert Lea and moved back to the city earlier this summer.