Beaufort is truly the little town that could

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By Lee Scott

There is an old poem about a Little Blue Engine that was asked to pull a train up a small mountain.  

The poem, written in the 1930s, was meant to capture the meaning of optimism and hard work. The little train had toys and wholesome food for little boys and girls but it had broken down. When the town asked the big engines to help, they refused because they were too important to help the little train. 

But the Little Blue Engine decided to help, despite her small size. She said to herself, “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.”  

As I was reading The Island News recently about all the things going on in Beaufort, I thought of that little engine.

There are so many events and programs being held in Beaufort which one would not expect for a small town.  

The city proper only has around 13,000 residents (as of the 2015 count) and yet it puts on large events all the time. 

Think of the International Film Festival which brings in participants from all over the world. Then there are all those festivals downtown at the Waterfront Park.  

I feel like Bubba talking to Forest Gump. There’s The Shrimp Festival and Taste of Beaufort, Music, Arts and Seafood Festival; The Beaufort Water Festival; The Light up the Night Boat Parade Festival. 

Sweet Lord! How does such a small town get the energy and volunteers to accomplish all these things?

Don’t the people that run these events have other jobs? Don’t they have families? I mean even the number of volunteers in the community is limited. 

But the town is like the little engine. It thinks it can. No, it is not Savannah, or Charleston. It is just a little community; yet I could fill up every night of the week with events, programs and festivals to attend.  

How does such a small community put on so much? I think the answer lies in the old poem. It is all about optimism and hard work. The people that championed the Waterfront Park and the volunteers with the historical society are credited with the present success of the town.  

But it is the rest of the citizens that spurred these leaders along. To me, they are the main reason why the town was recognized by Southern Living as “The Best Small Town in the South” for 2017.  

And just like the Little Blue Engine said, “I thought could. I thought I could. I thought I could.”