I have much to be thankful for. I have a patient, caring, understanding wife (can I emphasize patient? You should hear the ideas I come up with at home…). I have a great family both here in Wyoming and thousands of miles away on the frozen tundra of Canada. I have a couple of kids on the way, which I’m told is probably going to change my life. I have good friends, a crazy little dog and a challenging and rewarding job. And I have a beautiful small town to call my home.
I’m thankful for Wyoming’s wide-open spaces and Western graces. I’m thankful for every opportunity I get to explore the Bighorn Mountains — whether I’m on a quick run through the Tongue River Canyon or a multi-day backpacking expedition in the Cloud Peak Wilderness, every excursion feels like an opportunity to find some new, beautiful hideaway to call my own. I’m thankful for the history, icons and outlaws that are part of the very fabric of the American West and have made Sheridan such fertile ground for great stories and legends for generations. I’m thankful for all the folks that come visit us, from every corner of this country and from parts unknown. I’m even more thankful for you and all the locals that live here and work hard to make Sheridan one of the most amazing small towns in America. The mountains and valleys and rivers may have been what brought people out here long, long ago, but it’s an incredible sense of community that binds us together today.
I believe that part of the reason that Sheridan is such a fantastic place to live is the shared sense of what we are and what we want to become. We’re a small western city with a great downtown, outstanding recreation amenities, a thriving arts culture, excellent health care and education systems and a progressive business-friendly environment.
There are hundreds of great small towns across this country, many of them featuring beautiful Main Streets, proximity to mountains, lakes or the ocean, and warm, friendly people. But few have Sheridan’s vitality, or dedication to preservation and progress, which are so often mutually exclusive. We have more family and community foundations than cities 10 or 20 times our size; some are focused on education and the arts, some on economic development and some on youth recreation.
We have our warts and our scars, but we also have individuals and groups fighting to make Sheridan a friendly, welcoming place for everyone and anyone to call home — some are mental health professionals, crusaders for civil rights and liberties or substance abuse specialists.
We have the same social issues confronting every other town in America, but I’m so thankful that we have so many people fighting to overcome them for the betterment of the public. In short, it’s lifestyle opportunities that set Sheridan apart from other communities.
I’ve used my space here today to take a step back from the travel and tourism industry and take a broader look at Sheridan. Reflecting like this fills me with pride for this town, and I hope you feel the same way. I’m thankful for life in Wyoming, and I want to wish everyone out there a happy and safe Thanksgiving and holiday season.
Shawn Parker is the executive director of Sheridan Travel and Tourism.