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Pandemic awoke my love for Norwalk, my hometown

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A little more than a year ago, I moved out of Manhattan and back in with my parents to the house I grew up in on Fox Run Road in West Norwalk after it became apparent I’d be working from Bank of America’s disaster recovery site in Stamford for the foreseeable future.

At 27 years old and having a blast in “The City That Never Sleeps,” that was not exactly the way I pictured 2020 unfolding. The sadness I felt for the people suffering from any sort of loss related to COVID-19 quickly turned into an incredible appreciation for the place I call home, Norwalk.

When people say “It’s not the place, it’s the people,” they are only half right. Those people have not eaten buffalo calamari at Rowayton Seafood, had a sausage and hot cherry pepper pie with a Guinness at Colony Grill, or enjoyed a pina colada overlooking the water at Sunset Grille — truly incredible places.

I have such a tremendous amount of gratitude to all the people of Norwalk who have positively impacted my development (far too many to name!) and I can honestly say it was such a privilege to be shaped by Norwalk people from all different walks, races, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds — it has helped me so much in my adult life.

As I re-enter Manhattan and “normal” a year later, I have come to realize how lucky I was to return to an environment that really made me who I am and for that I am so thankful. My hope is that every person looks back at their hometown with the fondest of memories and such incredible pride; I know I always will. To the city of Norwalk — thank you from the bottom of my heart for being the place I get to call home.

Brian O’Neill

Former Norwalk resident

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