For the News-Gazette
Ashley McCarthy is a live-in caregiver in the town of Celebration— a family-based community. McCarthy first moved to the town in 1994, when her family won one of the 500 houses in the lottery.
“We were moving from Tampa, so we were close enough to drive by and see the house as it was being built,” said McCarthy. “Most of my family lives here now. It’s really nice to have everyone so close together.”
When the family moved in to their new home, much of Celebration was not yet built. Not even the Celebration School.
“Going to school was a very different experience,” said McCarthy. “We were in portables before we moved into the actual buildings. Our grades were given by numbers, instead of letters. All of the homework was project-based.”
McCarthy says she spent many afternoons sitting by the lakefront in the center of town, or at Disney World with her parents.
As a young adult living in town, McCarthy enjoys spending time at local restaurants. She particularly enjoys listening to the Spanish band play at the Columbia Restaurant on the weekends.
“My dad and I like going to ARI (sushi restaurant in Celebration),” said McCarthy. “We always share the Bento Box. It’s got different compartments, and you can order different things – like sushi, salad, etc. The crab and spinach soup is another favorite.”
As one of the first 500 residents to live in town, McCarthy says she doesn’t see herself living anywhere else.
“I would stay here forever if I could,” she said. “The camaraderie of the town is really good. I love the festivals Celebration hosts. The 4th of July celebration, the leaves falling in fall, the fake snow in winter… It’s a great place to live.”