After camping out on Craigslist for two months looking for a job, an opportunity to work with the Petaluma Visitors Program popped up. Of course, I am happy to be bringing in some income again, but I am equally excited because I love living and working here and this position gives me a chance to put my skills to work passionately promoting Petaluma.

So in taking on this new responsibility of telling the world about how great Petaluma is, I have been giving a lot of thought to what makes Petaluma someplace special and from a visitor’s point-of-view, a place that is worth getting off the freeway for…and hopefully, spending the night…and some money on shopping and dining.

Petaluma has personality that comes from not being overly polished or pretentious. Here’s what I mean: Petaluma’s signature event, the Butter & Egg Days Parade, is a come-one, come-all type of affair in which the community feels total ownership. You don’t need to be a beauty queen to ride on a float or a member of a precision marching band to participate. Last year, when the junior high marching band was in need of a drum major, after a five minute audition, my daughter was handed the mace and sent out to lead the band. Inexperience was no barrier. She had a great time in what may have been a once-in-a-lifetime experience for her.

Certainly a feature of Petaluma that sets it apart from other towns is that it has some history behind it. Don’t get me wrong, I love Rohnert Park, especially until Petaluma gets its own Target, but Rohnert Park looks like it has been around for about five minutes. The fact that Petaluma is more than 150 years old makes it downright ancient in terms of California History.

Petaluma’s walkable downtown has spoiled me. After living here, I don’t think I could be happy in a city that didn’t have a downtown area with plenty of window shopping; it’s been a major source of entertainment for our family.

What typically happens for us is that prior to the weekend, Steve and I will often talk about something we could do to get away from the computer that would be refreshing. We come up with a list of potential outings, but when we actually get to Sunday what really sounds good to us is staying close to home and walking around Petaluma.

You can call us unimaginative, but we always enjoying chatting over coffee at Starbucks, strolling over to Knitterly or HeeBe JeeBe and then ending up at Copperfields. This was such a routine when our kids were little that we still jokingly refer to Copperfields as “Copperfee-leds;” the way our 18-year-old daughter pronounced it when she was a toddler.

And though I probably lived in Petaluma for five years before I even noticed that a river runs through it, the slough is a unique feature of the city. It was great to see the story in last Thursday’s Argus about groups who are working to implement a 1996 Petaluma River access and enhancement plan. There is a lot going on behind the scenes to make the river more attractive destination for residents and visitors.

I am grateful for the opportunity; I’ve got plenty to say about Petaluma…plus, I get paid!