There are several common denominators to childhood that we can all probably agree on. Crushingly bad fashion choices? Check. Overbearing (or under-bearing) parents? Check. Sleepovers that ended in tears, one way or another? Check. But everyone’s home towns have their own special quirks. And if you grew up in Boca Raton, FL maybe some of these resonate with you.
1. Translation: “Mouth of the Rat.”
Not sure if this is the norm in other hometowns, but at least in Boca, we were all well aware of what ‘Boca Raton’ meant. Florida, having been discovered by the Spanish, has many Spanish language connections, and this is just one example of that. The other history takeaway is that there’s a good chance there’s sunken treasure off the coast, thanks to those conquistadors who pillaged and plundered their way to and through Florida.
2. We have a lot in common culturally with SoCal.
Laguna Beach might be on the other side of the country, but it certainly didn’t feel that way. From what we all learned from LC, Lo and Kristin, Southern California was rife with second marriages, plastic surgery, beach-ready attire, and drama. Same could be said of Boca, TBH.
Plus, the people from Boca are just as pretty.
3. “My grandma lives there!”
I was born in Boca, but I now live in New England. I always knew this was a stereotype, but you wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve had someone tell me that their grandparents live in Boca Raton.
And it’s true. My grandma lived in Boca. All of our grandmas lived in Boca (specifically, in Century Village). It’s probably the most infamous place to die retire in the whole of the United States.
Which leads to #4…
Because everyone’s grandma lives in Boca, there’s one universal truth about driving in this town.
Despite the city-issued speed limit, your 90-year-old grandma who should have had her license suspended YEARS ago is still driving. With cataracts. Along with every other grandma in town.
And they go slooooow. And don’t signal. And make too-wide turns.
(Seriously, grandma, I’ll give you a ride to the Festival Flea Market.)
5. Three Degrees of Separation
Living in South Florida often feels like it’s its own country. The culture there is unique unto itself, and everyone is connected somehow. And connections means that you inevitably know somebody who knows someone who is famous.
For example, your sister’s best friend might have been in an Enrique Iglesias video. Or your neighbor might be the accountant for Ariana Grande. So many people are from South Florida, it’s inevitable that you just might have a second or third or fourth connection to a famous person.
So instead of saying there’s six degrees of separation between any one person and Tom Cruise, in Boca, it’s more like three.
6. New New York
Boca Raton, and South Florida in general, is a confusing region of transplants from all over the place. It’s a melting pot of cultures, and we’ve got representation from every continent. But the representation that’s probably the most prevalent is New York.
Long Island, to be exact, but we’ve got plenty of folks from Manhattan, and they won’t hold back from telling you about it. Or yelling at you about it. The accents are so thick, you’d think the Sak’s you just stepped into isn’t in Town Center, but actually on Fifth. Speaking of the mall…
7. The Mall
If you grew up in Boca, like I did, we can probably agree that there was only one mall to go to.
And that mall was Town Center.
I mean, you could probably go to Sawgrass, or Wellington (but really, why would you?). But growing up in Boca, Town Center was the mall. It had all the best stores, of course, like Limited Too and Tiffany’s.
And yeah, sure, there was that shooting that one time, but everyone is still going to be there on a Saturday. You’ll either fight for a parking space for an hour and a half, or do valet parking and pay $500.
I mean, we can all afford that, right? We live in Boca.
8. The Beach
We all know there’s a beach in Boca (somewhere, anyways). I mean, obviously. Boca is on the water. But I think we’re all agreed that you just don’t go to the Boca beach. You don’t.
The infinitely better choice, of course, is Deerfield Beach (or Delray, take your pick). Those beaches are gorgeous, and the right beaches to visit. They just are. Full stop.
Boca Raton is part of Palm Beach County, and as such, it has one of the best school systems.
If you know anything at all about Florida, this might not be saying much.
I didn’t have a full appreciation for this fact until I was much older, but it’s true. The teachers actually care, and the resources are solid. Of course, things may have changed over time, but I remember having stellar teachers when I lived in Boca. And I turned out OK, which probably had something to do with Boca schooling.
10. Christmas at Butterfly World
Despite being one of many Jewish kids growing up in Boca, Christmastime was downright magical. Sure, the temperature didn’t get below a balmy 65 degrees, but with all of the holiday cheer being spread around, you’d hardly know. One of the very best places to experience that cheer is Butterfly World in Coconut Cove.
(OK, so it’s not technically in Boca, but it’s on Sample Road, and that’s basically Boca.)
Every year during the holidays, Tradewinds Park busts out their awesome holiday lights and deck the park. You drive slowly thru the park at night with your family, tune into whatever AM station is playing Christmas music, and enjoy the animated lights. I can’t speak for my adult-self, since I haven’t been in years, but my child-self was entranced. It was beautiful and magical and one of my favorite memories growing up in Boca.
11. Church Road
Some towns might be able to say the same, but when I think of Boca, one of the things that comes to mind right away is the stretch of churches, temples, synagogues, and mosques on a single road. It’s one good line of religious institutions being one right after the other, and as far as I know, they all seemed to exist quite harmoniously. Another example of how many cultures Boca sports by having a line-up of so many religions, just ripe for the choosing. L’Chaim.
(I was surprised that this is just Yamato Road. Too late, it’s forever ‘Church Road’.)
12. East Boca (What’s That?)
West Boca and East Boca are vastly different places. And if, like me, you grew up in West Boca (and experienced all the privilege thereof), East Boca becomes synonymous with ‘wasteland’.
I’ll be real honest, here. I don’t know what’s in East Boca. We didn’t venture very far past Military Trail. It’s horrible to say, but it was really was an entirely different world. West Boca was this microcosm of affluence and because everyone lived within 2.5 square miles of one another, we didn’t have to drive far at all. We just stayed in West Boca, and honestly, if things had been different, I might still be there today.
Boca was a great place to grow up. It was safe, provided opportunities to explore things outside of your personal culture, and had a great school system. I feel very lucky to have grown up there. Who knows, I might end up back in Century Village in forty years. Definitely wouldn’t be a bad gig.
Do you know anyone who grew up in Boca Raton, FL? Let us know down below!