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‘Sun City people’ welcomed in Logan

Arizonans take classes, have fun all summer long

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LOGAN — If familiarity really does breed contempt, then Cache Valley's "summer citizens" are the smartest people around.

Every summer when Utah State University is out of session, 730 (or thereabouts) retirees drive up from Arizona and other Sun Belt states to descend on Logan. They golf, they go to the theater and opera, they play cards, they eat in the buffet restaurants, they attend college classes and generally fool around in the cooler temperatures of northern Utah.

And then, having pumped $2.5 million into the local economy in a scant three months, they leave before even hinting at wearing out their welcome.

"It's a very good deal all around," said 90-year-old Ed Rose, who with his wife, Dodie, has been coming up from his residence in Sun City West, near Phoenix, for the past 19 summers. "It's 20 degrees cooler, and we have a wonderful social life. People are very friendly here."

The white-belt, white-shoe, Cadillac set has become a fixture in Cache Valley, and locals have welcomed them with open arms. Billboards, programs and brochures specifically target them. "Welcome, summer citizens," proclaims more than one restaurant marquee.

"When the students leave you instantly notice it," said Cache Valley tourism director Maridene Hancock. "The streets aren't as crowded, the stores aren't as crowded. Then the summer citizens come and you notice that, too. They're everywhere, they attend everything, they're suntanned, they're snappy dressers."

With the senior citizens' money and goodwill waiting to be exploited, USU offers more than 40 summer courses ranging from ballroom dancing to U.S. intelligence customized entirely to them. And never fear — it's solely for enjoyment.

"Participants don't need to worry about exams, grades or writing papers," said USU Summer Citizens Program spokeswoman Rachel von Niederhausern.

Native Loganite Catherine Idso grew up seeing the "Sun City people" every year (they're often referred to as such, since most of them come from the retirement communities Sun City, Sun City West and Sun City Grand.) Idso subsequently moved to Peoria, Ariz., right next to Sun City.

The annual influx began in 1976. Several Sun City residents had been going to Rexburg, Idaho, for the summers, but on June 5 of that year the Teton Dam broke, leaving many sunbirds with no warm-season home. With Logan, like Rexburg, being a small, relatively temperate college town, some decided to go there instead and have been coming ever since.

Interestingly, even though they have become accustomed to comfortable retirement homes, most Cache Valley summer citizens happily stay in student housing, including dorms.

Says USU summer citizens housing resource representative, Alecia Fredrickson, "They treat it like they're camping out for the summer."

E-mail: aedwards@desnews.com