I am a native of Arizona, and from the age of two, grew up in Kingman until graduation from high school in 1982, one-hundred years after the city was founded. The community was a wonderful place to be raised and nurtured and remains that way for families today.
To get to the heart of what makes Kingman special, you have to start with the people and sense of community. My father is still in Rotary and my mother is a lifetime member of Soroptimist and involved in Arizona Town Hall. The Chamber is active and citizens of all ages have an opportunity to be engaged in the community. For people who love to have a voice and see a real impact, Kingman’s size and culture supports this. Decision makers are your friends and colleagues and everyone gains from an improved community so the barriers traditionally experienced in larger metropolitan areas are not as common. While in sixth grade, we wanted to put a time capsule at the city complex. My dad drove me to the local Ford dealer who made one phone call to our State Senator, securing him for our master of ceremonies for the community dedication. This is not just the way of the past, but it continues today. As young people strive to make a difference and learn leadership, there are countless businesses and individuals ready to mentor and assist.
This speaks to a strong tradition of supporting youth. Today, a first-class swim team exists because thirty-three years ago, Paul McCormick got some parents together and organized practices and meets at the downtown city pool. Little League was always great with teams sporting the best uniforms and enjoying strong family and community support. Today, Kingman hosts the Little League All-Star event in July for youth statewide. When the high school band or a student organization has the opportunity to travel, the community continues to come together to support their efforts, providing their local youth with experiences beyond the borders of their hometown.
Community events happen on an annual basis, and rather than fading away with time, have remained relevant. Andy Devine Days, in honor of the late local Hollywood celebrity, includes a top-notch rodeo as well as a parade with entries from local students, service clubs and businesses. The county fairgrounds hosts a huge fourth of July fireworks celebration and the Mohave County Fair, which is a step back in time with everyone welcome to enter artwork, baked goods, or show animals. There are car shows, Easter eggs hunts in Metcalf and Centennial Parks and tons of events for active adults and seniors. My dad enjoys one of the two public golf courses weekly.
Because Kingman’s location is in northwest Arizona along the old Route 66 with the Hualapai, Cerbat and Black Mountains surrounding it, there are many activities to enjoy. Family picnics and cool weather in the Hualapai Mountain Park is a thirty-minute drive from downtown. You can boat and water ski at Lake Mead, ride a donkey in Oatman, enjoy the Colorado River, visit the London Bridge in Lake Havasu, see Hoover Dam and take in the best casinos in Laughlin and Las Vegas, Nevada. There are all sorts of fun Route 66 memorabilia shops, the best being the Powerhouse, which is the result of the community renovating an old dilapidated power plant and making it into a great tourist attraction. The climate in Kingman is moderate with mid-fifty’s in the winter and mid-ninety’s in the summer. There are definitely four seasons, but nothing harsh.
Kingman also has a wonderful Regional Medical Center that includes the Del Webb Wellness and Rehabilitation Center where my father works part-time. There is an airport with well-planned and recruited industrial development, and the main campus of Mohave Community College with extended learning through Northern Arizona University.
Kingman’s population has grown since the 2000 Census to an estimated 26,000+ people, with over 17,000 in the unincorporated areas that border the city. Right now, they are enjoying the benefits of the Hoover Dam Bypass project, which will allow Kingman to be an option for Las Vegas commuters when completed in 2008. The real estate market is healthy as people increasingly chose to reside in Kingman. There is quality housing in diverse high desert settings; some like the charm of the historic downtown, others enjoy living on a golf course, still others desire the serenity of the canyons and desert. There is breathing room, space between homes, lovely architecture and many sidewalks.
Just as important to what Kingman offers, is what it is lacking. There are no mega-malls, no endless rows of chain restaurants and no giant video game mazes with horrible pizza. Time is not spent running to warehouse super stores every other day and clothes shopping can be done at local stores and boutiques or during a shopping trip to a neighboring city. As a youth, my friends from Phoenix would ask me what there was to do in Kingman. My response was the same as young people today; there is a ton to do! The culture invites young people to participate in sports, school clubs and community organizations, enjoy the numerous parks, bike ride and hang out with friends. Truly, it is an asset to the community to have chef owned restaurants and small businesses with the occasional fast food restaurant and large supermarkets.
The twenty-something college student should travel the globe and discover a variety of cultures in Arizona and the United States. However, for those who are ready to enjoy involvement in their community, start and raise a family or retire where activities aren’t limited to crafts and golf, Kingman is the place. It has a soul, a heart, and a rich history. The residents are well traveled, educated and know a good thing when they see it whether they were raised in Kingman or found it in their search for a better life. That is my family story. My father enjoyed corporate success, living in the Midwest, Seattle, Los Angeles and Phoenix before moving our family to a place where he and my mother could make a difference and provide a safe and supportive environment for me and my brother to be raised.
Arizona is my home, and Kingman my hometown. I’m so proud to know the good people there and so thankful for all they have poured into me, giving me the strong foundation needed to live in today’s world.