Noise in Gulfport has been a heated topic in the past, and I’ve often been the guy walking to the neighbors’ house at 3 a.m. asking for silence. But our city is comparatively pretty quiet, a feature I’ve grown more aware of as surrounding areas attract even more new residents and tourists.
I work from home in my Gulfport bungalow, where I’m often surrounded by loud music and conversation. In my neighbors’ defense, my home doesn’t offer much in the way of soundproofing. But they’re also loud, and prone to catching up with friends at odd hours. Most of the time they yell about the quality of weed they’re smoking. From what I’ve heard (and smelled), it’s top notch.
These subtle disturbances may be annoying, but they’ve also ingrained in me an appreciation for the quietness most of Gulfport enjoys on a daily basis.
Pinellas is the most densely populated county in Florida, and you can feel it in most of the peninsula. With this highly concentrated population center comes lots of loud conversation, live music, and traffic. The grid pattern of major roads is almost always filled with honking cars adding hot gas to the already boiling subtropical climate. It’s a crowded and lively place, which to many is a part of the allure. But if you live on Central Avenue near downtown St. Pete or off of the ever-busy 66th Street in Pinellas Park, you’ll never know peace like we do in Gulfport.
On many afternoons when I clock out of work, I quickly throw on shorts, slide on my Birkenstocks, and hop on my bicycle to pedal away the day’s stress. It’s on these afternoon bike rides that I get to appreciate what a sleepy little town our home truly is.
I often peruse Ted Phillips Park, where ibis flocks quietly congregate. I can then pedal down to Clam Bayou and listen to the uninterrupted sound of waves lazily slapping the seawall. Then, I’ll loop around 31st Street South to try to catch a glimpse of whatever goes on in the Boca Ciega Waterfront Resort. Finally, I’ll loop back past O’Maddy’s on the main drag to immerse myself in the chatter so foreign to the majority of our quaint streets.
Rarely do I encounter loud music or boisterous tourists away from the intersection of Beach and Shore Boulevard, and I almost never have to dodge a driver blaring the horn and trying to pass me on our mismatched brick and pavement streets. These perks may seem minor, but whenever I leave our city limits the hustle and bustle reminds me how good we have it.
In our protected village, I can almost always hear the birds singing without a foreign noise filling in the downbeats – unless my neighbors are comparing weed strains in their outside voices.
But that’s a price I’m cool with paying.
Joe Opaleski is a full-time writer living in downtown Gulfport. He’s been featured in publications like Street Roots and the Tampa Bay Times and enjoys tennis, surfing, and cycling.