by Annie Payne
One of my first memories of Fruita is driving into town heading west on Highway 6 & 50 and seeing Grrreta the Dinosaur for the first time in her previous post next to Dinosaur Pizza. I believe I was about seven-years-old at the time. My younger cousin, upon seeing Grrreta, shrieked and hid behind the car seat.
I became a permanent resident of Fruita a few years later. I graduated from Fruita Monument, went away to college, married, and then brought my growing family back to raise in my hometown.
Being a long-time resident of Fruita, I have perspective that spans the years. I remember when Circle K was the best place for an ice cream bar and to fill a flat bicycle tire. I remember when Fruita used to crown a queen each year for its Fall Festival, after harrowing and highly competitive demonstration of poise, grace, and slick dance moves (Fruita girls are notoriously excellent dancers). I, also, remember when there wasn’t much north of Ottley than farmland. My home currently sits in what was formerly an apple orchard.
Fruita has grown to be a hub of excitement! The influx of tourism, housing developments, and new businesses has taken this town from being a place that kids couldn’t wait to get out of the day after graduation to one the most desirable areas to live, work, and play in the state!
One thing hasn’t changed over the years; Fruita is a community that cares. As a young Fruitian I felt safe and cared for by teachers, community members, and neighbors and that feeling of belonging and concern still permeates the city’s spirit.
Over the summer, citizens of Fruita came together at the Community Center to begin forming a coalition with our youngest community members in mind through a process called Communities That Care. Our goal is to identify where we may be lacking in services and support and build upon the things that we already do well for Fruita’s youth, like: great schools, parks, open areas, and trails for play, a community rec center/library with its variety of sports programs and enrichment classes, and easy access to healthcare with our new hospital and several nearby doctor’s offices.
In those meetings, I sit next to business owners, police, principals, youth pastors, politicians, an even some of the best youth that Fruita has to offer, whose own desire is to uplift their peers.
Our next steps will include outreach, publicity, programming, and bringing in anyone who had the heart to continue to make Fruita a great place to love, laugh, and grow.