When Sophie and Morris Bock decided to retire to a safe community where amenities abounded, they chose Century Village in Pembroke Pines. That was in 1990. And though Morris died three years ago, Sophie still cannot be more pleased with their choice.
''If somebody can't be happy here, they can't be happy anywhere,'' says Bock, 78. ``There is so much to do.''
That sentiment is echoed by others who move to this sprawling retirement mecca between Interstate 75 and Florida's Turnpike. For them, the end of jobs and careers means trading suits for golf shirts and dancing shoes, five-day weeks in an office for days that flow together in a streaming loop of swimming, shuffleboard and sing-alongs.
Alberto Darby, 81, moved to Century Village from Miami Springs five years ago after a long career in public administration.''They call this Cemetery Village,'' he says, with a wry laugh. ``But it can't be any further from the truth. I've never been busier.''
Darby, president of the Latin American Social Club, and Bock, president of the Democratic Club, represent the faces of a community undergoing the same changes as the rest of Broward County. Long a bastion of English-speaking Jewish retirees from the Northeast, Century Village increasingly attracts Hispanics who, though bilingual, speak Spanish in the hallways and dance salsa in the clubhouse. They are moving up from Miami, lured by the variety of activities, the well-tended grounds, the generation-specific amenities and, in a few cases, by children and grandchildren who have settled in Broward.
Residents estimate that at least 25 percent of Century Village's 14,000 residents are Hispanic and say the proportion is growing.
''Of the 10 people who move here, six or seven are Latin,'' Darby says. ``It's Radio Bemba [Radio Lips] spreading the word.''
Signs of the cultural makeover are everywhere. At Major Value Village Pharmacy, Goya products line the shelves along with Metamucil and kosher latke crisps. The Domino Club has more than 300 members, and the Latin American Social Club's free dance is packed every Friday night. A new Latin American Sing Along Group was started this summer.
Political affiliation is shifting as well. Century Village has always been a Democratic stronghold, but its newer residents tend to register as Republican or Independent.
Nonetheless, ''my sense is that the viewpoint has remained moderate,'' says Pembroke Pines Councilman Angelo Castillo, who represents the area. ``They tend to be very open minded, regardless of their party affiliation. They're socially liberal and financially conservative.''
LARGEST IN BROWARD
The largest condo community in Broward County, Century Village of Pembroke Pines -- there's another in Deerfield Beach and there are two more in Palm Beach County -- has traditionally been a significant political power. But that assumption, too, may be changing. In last year's state House District 105 race, the candidate who lost this condo community ended up winning the election. Voter turnout was unusually low -- 26 percent, compared to 37 percent in the September 2002 primary.
''I'm a little worried because there's been a significant drop,'' Castillo says. ``There's always been a clear tradition to go out and vote in Century Village, and seniors in general have a tendency to vote in greater numbers.''
But whether or not they go to the polls, Century Village residents remain vocal about their needs: affordable housing, taxes and insurance, health care and transportation issues. Their sheer numbers, and the size of this place, also guarantee they will be heard.