This is my story of Santa Ana from the beginning to the middle, and stretching into the future all the way towards the end.
Santa Ana is one of the oldest cities in Orange County, California. It is a city that treasures its unique culture and its sense of community. Although, I have spent my whole life in Santa Ana I still feel like there’s more to discover because this city has so much to offer.
I attended Santa Ana schools from K-12, continuing on to Santa Ana College, which gave me plenty of time to explore and experience what Santa Ana is all about. This made me think that I knew everything about Santa Ana, only to realize I had only scratched the surface. I was missing out on resources, activities, and so much more. Growing up, venturing out, and having more of those experiences has led me to discover these five things I wish I knew growing up in Santa Ana.
1. Santa Ana Public Library (SAPL), Teenspace
I admit, I was not the best student growing up. I was enrolled in one afterschool program, but other than that I did not go out looking for help. Little did I know, within walking distance, SAPL has a dedicated area just for teens. Located in the basement of the SAPL is a Teenspace. This space focuses on giving teens a safe space to hangout, do homework, but also providing them with workshops and activities that teach resiliency and life skills. If you ever make it down to the Teenspace you’ll be lucky enough to meet a welcoming staff and Cheryl Eberly, the Young Adult Principal Librarian, who has made the Teenspace a White House award winner.
2. Heritage Museum of Orange County
The Heritage Museum is a hidden gem in Santa Ana. Their mission is to preserve and promote the heritage and culture of Orange County. Located next to Centennial Park, the museum sits on federally protected wetlands that is used as a nature area. The museum holds public and school tours of their Victorian style home. They also host events for the community such as their stargazing night, Día de Los Muertos sugar skull painting event, and an Easter egg hunt. I know that growing up I would’ve loved to stroll through their nature area, collect funky rocks, and possibly catch a glimpse of their local coyote.
3. Downtown Santa Ana Art Walk
The Downtown Santa Ana Art Walk is an event that could very easily turn into a bonding Saturday night for the family. I say this because I’m pretty sure that’s what would’ve happened for me and my family, and there’s nothing I treasure more than those bonding moments. The Art walk takes place on the first Saturday of every month. The Art Walk is a space for community bridging where artists come to display their work, the public comes out to support and everybody gets to enjoy the FREE live entertainment. Attending the Art Walk would’ve been a huge change from my usual Saturday nights of playing video games. I see myself at the Art Walk now and think of all the moments I missed with my family, friends and community.
4. El Salvador Community Center
Community centers are a huge part of a neighborhood’s harmony. I had El Salvador Community Center in my own neighborhood, yet I can count the times I participated in their events, and those were because my parents didn’t want my siblings and I to stay home and watch TV all day. In retrospect, I wish I would’ve joined the gardening workshops, used the community pool, and participated in the family PRIDE projects. Now I understand the value that these centers bring, and I wish I had taken advantage of the opportunities they offer.
5. Old Orange County Courthouse Museum
The Old Orange County courthouse is the oldest courthouse in Southern California. The 30,000 sq. ft. building is full of Santa Ana and Orange County history. Many items are displayed in the Old Orange County Courthouse Museum that is nestled away under the stairs. Like many students, history was not always my favorite subject, but something in me always appreciated it. This small but mighty museum served to spark my interest in history.
Story by Abraham Gomez
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