By his standards, Randal Park resident David Grimm is living the dream.
“You know how some people say, ‘When you work in the community you’re in, you’re always working?’” the Orlando native asks. “Well, having the opportunity to live where I work just adds to my job.”
David sees himself as lucky because the former Lake Nona math teacher will be able to put his physical education degree to work as Innovation Middle School’s phys ed teacher and athletic director when the school opens for classes this August. The school’s just three miles down the road from his home, he says, and his home’s close enough to the community’s elementary school that he can walk his 8-year-old daughter to class.
“Living where I work has allowed me to build relationships with my students and their families, as well as with business owners and doctors and vets,” he says.
Like a lot of people who choose to live in the planned community of Randal Park, one of Lake Nona’s satellite neighborhoods, David and his wife, Kari (also a teacher except she actually teaches the teachers as an algebra instructor at Cypress Creek High School), chose Randal Park because of its sense of community and its many amenities.
After all, not a lot of neighborhoods have their own clubhouse, Olympic-sized swimming pool or fitness center. And the people of Randal Park celebrate their neighbors with year-round activities like movie and pizza nights, ice cream and food truck socials, and empty nester potlucks, all of which are held in the neighborhood’s park.
Those aspects are some of the same reasons Lucie and Jeff Pescatello chose Randal Park over other communities.
“One of the nicest things we have is that pool, with a couple of nearby outdoor kitchens where the community holds potlucks,” Jeff says. Lucie admits that she and Jeff try to bring healthier dishes to pass around, like bean salads and fruit salads, but she’s known for her macaroni and cheese—a recipe she cribbed from her brother, a caterer.
And for campers and beachgoers, a home in Randal Park means you’re within driving distance of everything you like to do best.
“Within a 30-minute drive, we can go camping at 20 different sites,” says Lucie, who runs her own travel agency, Escapes International Travel. “And from where we are, it’s just a 20-minute drive to Disney World, a 30-minute drive to downtown Orlando, and a 40-minute drive to the beach.”
The Grimms also like to camp. In fact, David is the fellow who started the community’s annual camping in the park tradition, where they create a pop-up campground each fall anchored by a fire pit and an outdoor movie screen that flickers with family-friendly films and college football games.
“We’re so blessed and excited to be here,” David says—and who can blame him when his favorite things are in his backyard? But when the Grimms do decide to venture outside their own patch of grass, the nearby international airport gives them the chance to see someone else’s.
In their last three trips, the Grimms have spent time in Germany, Italy, Paris, and London, and sometimes they take working vacations, bringing students and their families abroad to experience new places and cultures.
The Pescatellos also feel blessed to call Randal Park home.
“I grew up in Orlando,” Lucie says, but she later moved away and was living in Connecticut. After her father was diagnosed with cancer, she and her family returned. “My friend raved about [the] Lake Nona [area], so we checked it out and immediately loved it.”
“I love the nature walks in Randal Park, the gatherings, and walking my youngest to and from the elementary school,” she adds. But her favorite thing might just be Randal Park’s “sense of community,” and the fact that the neighborhood is smack dab in the middle of everything, all at once.