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Imagine you are a visitor driving down Ocean Avenue on a Friday at dusk, making a stop at the red light at the intersection of Ocean and H.

You look to your right, roll down your window and listen to the unique water fountain spill and recycle in the middle of the town square. You smell the lavender and a freshly-mowed lawn. You see roses blooming in bunches. You breathe deep and smile.

Inspired, you turn the corner onto H, then make another right turn into the narrow road alongside the renovated performing arts center with a mural celebrating the performing arts.

You park your car in the plant-clad, free public parking structure behind the arts building and head to this downtown square. You use your cell phone to capture images of this downtown jewel. You share on Facebook and Instagram photos that reveal a Lompoc downtown park that rivals the finest public gardens. Likes and comments roll in — “I wish I was there with you!” “Wow!” “Beautiful” and “Get me to Lompoc!”

With your back to H Street, you sit down on a unique bench, crafted by a local artist, and watch people. Young children scramble around the fountain and ask parents for quarters to make wishes on. Parents reach deep into their pockets for change to make their own dreams come true. It’s a square full of the happiness that comes when you visit a well-tended garden with a fountain.

On the corner, next to the performing arts hall, colorful umbrellas of a streetside copper-coffee bar catch your eye. You watch exotic coffee drinks exchange hands. Refreshed and delighted, park patrons make small talk with each other. You watch a juggler and mime team amaze the gathering crowd of children.

On the corner of Ocean and H, just under the wine trail sign, from your bench you see a portable wine room set up to give rotating local winemakers a place to offer a taste of Lompoc Valley’s distinctive wines. At the far corner of the square, on the performing arts building side, you notice a small bowl structure with a stage. A spontaneous solo singer shares the blues, acapella.

You get up and walk along Ocean on the edge of the town square. There you see a row of tables with embedded chess boards. A poster on a registration table announces locals compete for free in this open chess competition that is gaining countywide acclaim. You walk around to the sidewalk where you see an artist creating street art with chalk.

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You check your watch and realize it’s almost time for the theater to open and you can catch a performance of a play by a local playwright. You head over to the box office and purchase one of the few remaining tickets.

Ninety minutes later you exit the theatre satisfied that “the play’s the thing,” and wish more towns had live theaters in the heart of town.

Imagine, as you walk down the street beside the theater building to your car, you look to your right and see a park well-lighted and still alive with people enjoying the warm Indian summer evening. Your heart is full of peace and joy. You are so pleased that you stopped and stayed to savor an evening in Lompoc before getting back on the highway home.

Yes, together let’s all imagine Lompoc with a downtown theater square, and share our special city with travelers from all over the world.

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Catalina McIssac is a Lompoc Valley resident. Forward View is a progressive look at local issues. For information, please call 736-1897.

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