Wastchak: Grateful to call Paradise Valley my home

Monopoly, a family-favorite board game within the Wastchak household, has been updated to feature Camelback Mountain. (Submitted photo)

My daughters and I have enjoyed playing card and board games since they were old enough to write their names and count their numbers.

Daran Wastchak

As they grew older and matured, we progressed to more challenging and educational games like Monopoly, which they came to love in particular.

We played on the original Monopoly board that I used as a kid, with the seams of the board taped back together from folding and unfolding a million times and the paper money so worn it was more like soft tissue paper than the original crisp notes.

Eventually one Christmas, a request was made for the new “Electronic Banking” version of Monopoly, and Santa happily obliged.

Not only did this latest edition do away with paper money and replace it with, of course, credit cards, but the dollar amounts were updated from the original 1930’s $200.00 for passing GO to an inflation adjusted $2 million for the same maneuver, the Railroads were supplanted by International Airports, and the properties were all upgraded to more modern destinations like the Country Music Hall of Fame, Disney World and….Camelback Mountain!

Being named a property on the newest Monopoly board is not the be all to end all, and certainly does not automatically turn Camelback Mountain into a landmark on par with the Golden Gate Bridge or the White House (both new properties in the updated edition).

(Submitted photo)

But me and my daughters thought it was pretty cool, and it filled me with pride to think that someone, somewhere else in the country….or the world, would be buying “Camelback Mountain” as a Monopoly property, the mountain we get to see and enjoy every day. In particular, this small honor reminded me of just how special Paradise Valley is and how grateful I am to live in such a beautiful place.

When we moved here almost 13 years ago, the girls were very young and it was incredibly convenient walking them across the street to and from Kiva Elementary School each day as the rest of the parents battled each other during drop-offs and pick-ups in the traffic jam on McDonald that is created every morning and afternoon in front of our house.

In the sunny mornings of late fall and winter, as we walked to school in the shadow of Camelback Mountain, I often reminded the girls how lucky we were to live in a place that so many people wanted to visit, from all over the country and the world, to get out of the snow and cold where they live.

I explained that our visitors come not only for the incredible weather, but to enjoy our world class resorts, the award-winning restaurants so close, the relaxed lifestyle, and to even enjoy a climb up one of the most popular hiking destinations in the Valley of the Sun, Camelback Mountain, to get one of the best views of the Town and the surrounding metropolis that is Phoenix and Scottsdale.

They come to bask in the quality of life that our Town of wonderful volunteers and dedicated staff have worked so hard, for so many year to create. A quality of life which at its very core is based on one-home per acre zoning and also preservation of open space and mountain views, the absence of overhead power lines that would obstruct those views, Sonoran Desert landscapes, and dark skies created by so few street lights that a drive at night down most streets in Town makes it hard to distinguish whether the electricity is working or not.

These are the things that our guests and visitors enjoy during their brief stay. As residents, we get to enjoy them each and every day. It’s why I’m not alone in feeling great pride and privilege to call Paradise Valley my home.

Camelback Mountain not only adorns the seal of the Town of Paradise Valley, you now know that it has risen to the special distinction of a coveted Monopoly board property. As such, in a small way, this pop culture nod to the iconic symbol of our Town has also enhanced the stature of what former Mayor Michael Collins so often referred to as the best small town in American, our home, Paradise Valley.

Editor’s Note: Daran Wastchak is a Paradise Valley resident and chair of the Paradise Valley Planning Commission.

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