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BEYOND BEACHES AND TREASURE: THE CHARACTER OF SEBASTIAN | SECOND PLACE ESSAY Winner | CAITY PETERS

Updated: Feb 5




The City of Sebastian invited high school students from Sebastian River High School to participate in the Centennial Essay Contest — “What Makes Sebastian Special?”

Students were invited to write an essay telling readers, their opinion on what makes Sebastian special.



Ever since I had Human Geography in my freshman year of high school, I have seen places akin to people. Each location plays the leading role in its unique story, much like a main character in a book. Localities are narratives complete with a rich backstory, distinctive personalities, and quirks that so, as a reader, have grown to know and cherish. These aspects make every place I have had the privilege of visiting one of a kind. From the places my family and I have moved, vacationed, or called home, there are no two places identical. Even when well-worn highways and placeless landmarks scar the landscape, the people within each town breathe life into their surroundings, creating a memorable and quite lovable character. Sebastian, Florida is no exception. 


Sebastian has a backstory of lost treasure, a narrative I doubt I would have ventured to learn had I lived beyond the state’s border or even a few dozen miles from this coastal town. The history is rich, to say the least. Names like Mel Fisher, Kip Wagner, and their respective chosen company are some of the highlights of the town, offering a glimpse into the intriguing world of treasure hunting. These aforementioned people are not the sole authors of Sebastian’s historic tale. Simply, they are short stories in this intricate multiseries universe. Artisans, educators, doctors, and everyday heroes have graced Sebastian with their presence. Whether these people went unnoticed or brought a tidal wave of attention upon themselves, the point is moot. These people left an impact, making Sebastian much more than the sum of a treasure-hunting past. 


This coastal haven, Sebastian, seems to possess an aura of timeless serenity. It is as if the town has scored tickets to a never-ending premiere of a movie featuring turtles, where the pace of life reflects the unwavering progress of turtles. Regardless of the hulking black-flippered creatures casually roaming beaches after dark, many people embody their eternal qualities too. The amount of tranquility the community contains is remarkable. Even the abundant palm trees seem to shy away from casting a dark shadow upon the sun-kissed terrain and saturated waterside houses. Without a doubt, Sebastian has the unique personality of an old soul filled to the brim with vitality, doting out a riptide of small-town charm and community spirit. 


As with any character in a good book, Sebastian has its quirks. Who could have expected people to drive golf carts around every corner—year-round? However, this sunny climate makes the practice fitting. Adding towards Sebastian's exponentially growing quirky charm, the annual festivities, such as the clambake and quite an unfamiliar school pride, top off this decadent character smoothie. Even when the quirks come biting back, literally, in the form of tiny flies no one can see, the charm still preserves through the blatant shouts of disapproval from these nuisances. These tiny annoyances may be an ingrained part of any displeasure experienced in this lovely town, but the insects are important to the ecosystem nonetheless: prey for multiple insect-eating animals, the more enjoyable types, respectively. From the coastal oddities to the unfamiliar trips people take about town on golf carts and the annual festivities floating about town, those aspects add a charming layer to this peaceful waterfront town. 


Ultimately, if not for its lively insect population or the treasure legends that make Sebastian a memorable hotspot on the outskirts of larger cities, it is the everyday, quite extraordinary, people that make Sebastian special. These everyday people bring pride, unity, and an overall sense of tranquility to the community. Outsiders—including my family—are naturally drawn to this small-town charm and the residents of it. It is these people who bring a lively meaning to the life of this town. Every shared memory, glance at lapping waves, and swaying palms weaves another layer into Sebastian's ongoing history. Just like characters in a novel, we all have the power to contribute to the story, to infuse inanimate objects and human-defined borders with new meanings. We, the people, make Sebastian special. 

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