ANZIO Digital Welcome Snowbirds, Now Go Home

by Kelly Sallaway.
Date: 12 February 2010

The Love/Hate Relationship with Arizona's Winter Visitors

Welcome Snowbirds, Now Go Home - Lincolnshire Magazine -

Out in Arizona we are blessed with wide open spaces and clear sunny weather. With about 300 days of sunshine a year it's hard to beat. The summers are brutal but when winter weather hovers between 70-80 degrees it makes the rest of the year worth it.

The desert winter acts almost like an English summer. It is when we "Natives" all come out to play; tennis courts and golf courses are full and it's time for outdoor cook outs, motorcycle and horse rides.

Unfortunately, it also brings out winter visitors.

Flocks of visitors leave their home states and colder countries and descend upon Arizona. These aren't typical tourists, they are what we call "Snowbirds". They fly south for the winter. Snowbirds don't just visit for a week or so, they live here for half the year.

We love the fact that they bring their business and money into the state but they also clog up the roads and restaurants. We welcome the fact that they love us so much that they buy property, cars and spend loads of cash but we pretty much dislike their driving , attitude and lack of real investment in our homeland.

Snowbird Phenomenon

Welcome Snowbirds, Now Go Home - Lincolnshire Magazine -

The Snowbird phenomenon has been going on for as long as we have been a state (you probably know someone who has been alive longer than that... since it has only been since 1912, but it's forever to us).

From the first motels along Route 66 to a big boom of Dude Ranches that popped up with the Cowboy movies in the 1930's and 40's people have traveled here to get some sunshine and a taste of the Western lifestyle.

In recent history, Snowbirds have bought up more and more of the real estate. Traditionally the land and home prices have always been very low compared to the industrialized areas in the country.

A New Yorker can buy a place here for a fraction of the cost of a city rental. Winter homes and Golf Course properties are well within reach of even middle class visitors.

We can map the Snowbird migration from every cold weather state. A lot of "M" states Minnesota, Michigan, Massachusetts and Maine start early in the season.

When the weatherman reports the first flakes of snow in the Northeast (around October) it starts. The Midwesterners come around Christmas and by January THEY are all here. There is a big influx from Canada and I know a couple of English Snowbirds who stay exactly six months here and six months there.

They make us a little crazy

Many Snowbirds are Senior Citizens who stay in Sun City or designated communities for these older birds. But sometimes they get out and we see their little gray heads peering over the steering wheel of their huge land yachts, driving 20 miles per hour under the posted speed limit. This really gets us locals riled up.

We stomp on the gas and swerve around them or just shake our heads until they meander out of the way. We are wary of each foreign state license plate and we have actual debates about which cold clime send us the worst drivers.

We surmise an IOWA plate stand for: Idiots Out Wandering Around.

We know deep down that these folks are somebody's nice little Grandma or Grandpa but that doesn't keep us from calling them every name in the book. They make us a little crazy.

Just yesterday I saw a bumper sticker that read "So Many Snowbirds, So Little Freezer Space"

No Cultural Assimilation

Welcome Snowbirds, Now Go Home - Lincolnshire Magazine -

Places like Florida have the same issues. Transient residents who won't culturally assimilate.

This may seem a strange statement when we are talking state to state in the same country but Snowbirds and transplants don't try to fit in and refuse to give up their allegiance to their birth state.

They come here for half the year or move here permanently but everything is better 'Back East'. The food, restaurants, shopping, entertainment is better in 'you name it'.

Sports is a major divisive ground. A New Yorker may live here 30 years but he's never going to give up wearing a Yankees cap.

Attend any Arizona sporting event against Chicago and the "Visitors" jerseys in the crowd will far out-number the "Home" team every time.

Maybe we are jealous. The Snowbirds have the best of both worlds. They come out and suck up the sun and return to their 'real' homes when the temperatures start to climb.

I would love to turn the tables on them and get out of here when my patio thermometer reads 110. If I could afford to live six months of the year in Alaska I might go there and torment the locals.

I might leave...but why? The summer is great, the roads are clear, you can get into any restaurant in town without a reservation, and the Snowbirds are gone...until next year.

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