There is an ancient saying that originated in the Bible’s old testament.  “Nothing under the sun is truly new.”  (Ecclesiastes 1:9 New Living Translation).  This just in: Even the Denton bucket list is not new.  The #dentonbucketlist campaign is fresh, sure.  But Denton has been bucket-listing for a long time.

In 1974, fresh OU grads Paul and Paula Carpenter arrived in Denton, population 45,000.  They came for the first big job out of college, and were enamored with the town at the start.  Ardent lovers of history and architecture, the Oak-Hickory Historic District was an especially favorite spot for them to dream about their future.  One house in particular snagged their attention.  At 723 West Oak stood an 1898 Victorian home.  “A gingerbread dollhouse,” remembers Paula.

It was then that the Carpenter’s Denton bucket list began.  Top of the list?  To raise their children-to-come in that stately home beneath the towering trees, restore it to its original grandeur, and perhaps inspire revitalization throughout the area.  Their list went on to include the arrival of other visionaries, a city-wide commitment to preserve and rejuvenate the square and protection of Denton’s heritage and treasure-trove of vintage architecture.IMG_7072

These weren’t just pipe dreams.  In 1980, the Carpenters purchased that home from Ms. Elizabeth Lomax who had lived there since her parents bought it in 1906.  For the 22 years the Carpenters lived there, they did everything they imagined they would back in their bucket list days with the house and the community.  In 2015, Mayor Chris Watts honored the Carpenters and other Denton historic preservation pioneers with proclamations honoring their early contributions to Denton.

Ms. Carpenter shared her story with us after reading about the #dentonbucketlist in this column.  Admittedly, theirs was a giant bucket list item.  But wow, she totally captured the campaign’s spirit.  That is:  dream it, and do it!  And she reminds us that bucket list passion isn’t new.  In fact, it’s the very stuff on which Denton is built.

Our universities were once someone’s dream.  Every note of every song whispered first in the heart of an individual.  Every piece of art, every adventure undertaken…you get it.  It all started with a dream, someone’s bucket list.

The first week in May was National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW), a week set aside each year for cities across the nation to celebrate travel’s importance to the American economy and quality of life.  In its honor, we brought the bucket list to life in Denton.

Accompanied by Dentoning Experts, the bucket made the Denton rounds throughout the week.  Day one, it was on the courthouse lawn for a movie night.  The next day, the bucket was at Cartwright’s Ranch House during the lunch hour and at Oak Street Drafthouse during the Wednesday Night Social Run and Walk.  Thursday saw it at Mellow Mushroom for lunch and at Twilight Tunes on the Courthouse lawn for the evening.  Friday, LSA hosted the bucket during lunch, and Eastside did so for happy hour.  For the final day, the bucket was at the Beth Maries Old Fashioned Ice Cream’s Unicorn Lake location for lunch and at the Campus Theatre that evening for the opening weekend of “In the Heights.”

IMG_7077The goal was to fill the bucket with ideas for seekers looking to discover the real Denton.  Some 400 people submitted bucket list suggestions, garnering 195 individual recommendations for our visitors!

Visitors are big business to the Denton economy, spending $175 million dollars in our city during 2014 alone.  That’s a lot of money!  In fact, if it weren’t for tourism, every Dentonite would spend $356.14 more out of pocket in taxes.  This is serious business and why making sure visitors find the Denton they seek is so important.

Paula Carpenter’s letter reminded us that visitors sometimes become residents, business owners and even investors.  The visit to our city is their first impression.  It is essential that it’s positive.  This is what our Discover Denton Welcome Center is all about.  We are an original, independent place.  By our nature, we are organic.  If a person is not from here, figuring us out can be a challenge.

“Where is the music I’ve heard about?” they wonder.  “How do I see the horse country?”  We are famous for these and other attributes.  Dentoning Experts will guide these discoveries.  And the Denton bucket list is one of the tools they will utilize.

We know there are hundreds more bucket list ideas out there.  So keep them coming.  Use hashtag #dentonbucketlist to submit your ideas on social media.  And dream big!  You never know where those dreams will take someone.  Just look at the Carpenters.