Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Divas of Binghamton

Binghamton has experienced an uptick in positivity this past year. Online posts regarding its music, arts and food scenes have definitely seen an increase. I, along with my fellow Binghamton community page managers such as BingSpot and What's Goin' On Binghamton?, have done our best to spread the word regarding these very popular and positive aspects of the area.

There is one group of individuals, however, that has done so much for this community with very little public recognition. That is, until now.

The Divas of Binghamton, as I like to call them, are an elite group of performers; commonly referred to as drag queens. They have not only entertained their growing audiences throughout the year but have given their time and talents in support of various nonprofit organizations; organizations such as the Southern Tier Aids Program, Tri-Cities Opera, Binghamton Pride Coalition, Toys of Tots, Rainbow Pride Union at Binghamton University, just to name a few. The photo above is a small representation of the many who have made us laugh, cry, cheer and dance throughout the year; putting our enjoyment above the many physical stresses they must go through for each and every performance. To willingly put themselves and their bodies through what many of us would consider torture in support of a charity event is worthy of acknowledgement.

So, this is my personal thank you to the Divas of Binghamton for all that you have done to make Binghamton a better place.

Friday, December 19, 2014

'Tis the Season, Binghamton

Seriously, there has been way too much negativity posted about the Binghamton area lately. Especially from both sides of the fracking and casino issues. All too often we tend to focus on what might have been rather than on what we have. 

It has always been my goal here at Patti Loves Bing to focus on the positive happenings in Binghamton. While many of the events I have attended and showcased over the last two years may have not been the most popular or most glamorous, I believe I have done my best to let you all know what options are out there without added political drama or commentary.

With one exception, Binghamton still has a long way to go in terms of job growth and sustainable economic development; but look how far it has come. When I arrived in Binghamton a little over 20 years ago, you would have been hard pressed to find anything open in the downtown core past 5 pm. Now, no matter what day of the week it is, you are hard pressed to find a place to park or an open table at one of our many local restaurants and pubs. The streets are cleaner and brighter. There are people walking and greeting each other on the sidewalks. Binghamton has become the place to connect with friends, old and new.

So, on this third day of Hanukkah and with less than a week away from Christmas, I want to offer this holiday promise to all of you.  I promise to continue to spread Binghamton cheer as much as resources allow. I do, however, have one request from all of you.  If you know of an event that is coming up in Binghamton that is not getting the attention it should, please let me know.  While I may not be able to attend each and every one, I will try my best to share it with all who follow the Patti Loves Bing Facebook page.

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Joyous Kwanzaa and, of course, Happy Festivus, Binghamton!

Friday, October 3, 2014

A Look Back on Summer 2014

All too often you hear or read how Binghamton and the surrounding area are ghost towns during the summer.  Many chalk it up to the fact that the college students have all gone home.  Well, let's put that fallacy to rest and reflect back on the last three months. 

Much has happened here in our little corner of the world. The Binghamton has played host to an array of events and activities catering to its diverse population.  

It seemed that there was something happening in Binghamton every weekend during the Summer of 2014.  Being just one person, I was physically and financially unable to attend each and every event I was invited to.  However, of the festivals, fundraisers, races and art walks that I was able to be at; each and every one of them were well attended by real live people; not ghosts; as is the popular belief.

June brought us Pride Palooza, Juneteenth, the dedication of Phelps Park and the "Glee" invasion; among others.

20th Binghamton Pride Palooza

One of the many Glee sightings around the City

Binghamton's new splash pad at Columbus Park during Juneteenth

Phelps Park dedication on Binghamton's North Side
July was kicked off with the July Art Walk followed by, yet, another successful JulyFest.

Lauren Hering photography showing during July Art Walk

JulyFest 2014

Finally, August brought me to the Anti-Heroin Awareness event, Roberson's RiverFest, the Fresh Food Face Off, St. Mary's Bazaar, the Dick's Sporting Goods Open, Galaxy Brewing Company's 1st Anniversary, Spiedie Fest & Balloon Rally and the Chris Thater Memorial.

Dick's Sporting Goods Open

Fresh Food Face Off

Galaxy Brewing Company celebrates its 1st Anniversary

"I'm Dope with Dope" Heroin Awareness Event

Roberson's RiverFest

St. Mary's Bazaar

Spiedie Fest & Balloon Rally

Chris Thater Memorial Races

Again, this is just a small sampling of what Binghamton had to offer during the summer.  There was many more events that I was not able to personally attend due to several extenuating circumstances; many beyond my control.  However, they were just as important to promoting our area and enhancing our community pride.  Keep the invitations coming and, in return, I will do my best to be there when I can.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Beneath the Funnel Cake & Music: Binghamton Shines

Over the past several weeks, downtown Binghamton has been host to several community festivals and events. The summer kicked off with Pride Palooza, followed by Juneteenth and, most recently, JulyFest. These are just the beginning of a full summer slate of festivals, events and bazaars planned between now and the fall.

No matter the theme, nonprofit organization or even the delightfulness of the funnel cakes and corn dogs; each and every one of these events succeed in showcasing Binghamton's best attribute ~ Community Pride.

Thank you to the organizers of each and every one of the events that have both occurred and are planned in the near future.  It is through your dedication, hard work and, yes, love of Binghamton that we all shine.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Peeling Away Binghamton's Many Layers

All too often I find myself being asked, "Why Binghamton?" My pat response has and always will be "Why not?".

Binghamton can easily be compared to an onion. Now, before you start complaining about the comparison; hear me out.  

First, there are the layers. As you peel back each one, there is always something more.  Too many people see Binghamton as one-dimensional. They do not take the time to delve deeper into the community.  In order to truly appreciate this area, one must venture outside their comfort zones and take in the entire Binghamton experience. I have found that too many would rather complain about negatives and ignore the positives when it comes to the area.

Secondly, there is the pungency. Yes, initially an onion can be pungent. To newcomers to the area; certain areas of Binghamton may also appear repugnant. Particularly, to those coming from the neat and tidy bedroom communities downstate. Just as an onion takes on a special sweetness when allowed to cook and caramelize; so does Binghamton. Judging an area at first glance does both yourself and the area a disservice. 

Sure, we may not be the prettiest of cities nor may we be the most exciting; however, we do have a lot to offer.  All you need to do is peel back the layers.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Celebrate Binghamton's Diversity

Having spent a majority of my formative years on the north shore of Eastern Long Island; I led a sheltered childhood when it came to different races, ethnicity, political beliefs and, yes, sexual orientation.  During the late 1960's through mid 1970's, eastern Suffolk County was a Caucasian, Roman Catholic, republican haven for middle class businessmen and their families. We had the McCarthy's on one side of us and the Esposito's on the other.  Our fathers rode the Long Island Railroad to Manhattan every morning while we frolicked in blissful suburbia. Yes, in hindsight, it was probably not the most healthy of social environments; but who knew any better then.

To be honest, the first African American that I became friends with was during a brief time my family lived in Florida.  We moved down during Florida's desegregation of its schools. I spent many a school day being bused over a hour each way to junior high school.  It wasn't until I entered college, 35 years ago this September, that I met my first non-catholic, democrat and, yes, gay (not all the same person, mind you). Did lightning strike during any of these encounters?  Of course not.

When given the chance to move to Binghamton in the early 1990's for business and family reasons, I looked forward to giving my children the chance to experience a broad spectrum of diversity that was not available to me at their age. I am proud of the young men that they have become. Much of the credit needs to go to the Binghamton School District and Binghamton, overall. They did not see the diverse cultures and races as being anything out of the norm. Their friends were their friends no matter what color their skin, or what religion they were, or how much money their families had. They didn't have to question whether their friends preferred boys or girls.  A friend was a friend no matter what.

Much has been written about Binghamton's diversity; unfortunately, more negative than positive. Why is that? Is it easier to speak ill of someone who is different than yourself than to accept them for who they are? Is it a lack of understanding coupled with a fear of asking questions in order to understand?

Diverse populations are necessary for communities to thrive. If everyone was of the same beliefs and backgrounds, any community would become stagnant very quickly.  We need to celebrate our differences rather than distance ourselves from them. 

June is Pride Month. Let's start by celebrating with our family, friends, neighbors and co-workers who are members of the LGBT community right here in Binghamton.  On Saturday, June 7th the Pride Rainbow flag will be raised outside City Hall.  Showing our support is the first step in understanding. If there is something about the LGBT community you do not understand; don't be afraid to ask.  Again, lightning will not strike you down for doing so.

I look forward to seeing you all on Saturday morning.

(p.s. - that non-catholic I met 35 years ago, is now my husband of nearly 31 years.)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Open Letter to Binghamton University Graduates

Dear Binghamton University Class of 2014,

Congratulations on the completion of your academic journey toward the degrees bestowed upon you this weekend.  To paraphrase President Stenger, these degrees come with all "the rights and privileges" associated with them. I have the utmost confidence that you will use them wisely.

To those leaving the area to pursue your futures, you will be dearly missed. As you begin the next chapter of your lives, I hope fond memories of your brief time in the Binghamton area will always be in your hearts. I hope you took the time to venture off campus and into the community we all call home; that you were able to forge a lasting relationship or two with whom many refer to as a "townie"; and that you realized Binghamton extends past State Street.

To those choosing to pursue your dreams here, welcome home. 

Leaving or staying, Binghamton owes a debt of gratitude to all of you. Your presence in the Binghamton community has added a freshness and vibrancy that is contagious.

Finally, thank you for reminding us that it is possible to pursue your dreams through hard work and dedication and still have time for fun. Your ever present smiles throughout the Binghamton community will stay with us all long after you are gone.

Wishing you the best of luck,

Patti Loves Bing

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

We Are Community

Like many of you in the Binghamton area, the first sign that something was wrong in the downtown core this morning was the huge cloud of black smoke rising above the city.  I had a clear view of it as I embarked on my morning commute toward Endicott.  It wasn't until a little later that the constant barrage of Facebook and Twitter notifications began to hit my cell phone.  I tried my best to share with you as much as I could until my phone battery finally gave out. 

It wasn't until almost 11 hours after the first alarm sounded, and I was home, that I was able to comprehend the full extent of what occurred today.

Reading through the news reports and the numerous Facebook and Twitter posts; one thing was clearly obvious.  Binghamton residents and business owners set aside their political, social and economic differences today.  They all came together as a community; lending their moral support for the Ellis family, the surrounding businesses and, of course, the Binghamton Fire Department.  There were no cynical or sarcastic comments. There has been no blaming or conspiracy theories.

This overwhelming sense of community is quintessential Binghamton.  Ellis Brothers Fine Furniture has already announced that they will rebuild. It is obvious the Binghamton is as important to the Ellis family as they have been to Binghamton.  Binghamton did not let them down today. In fact, Binghamton did not let itself down today. This is just another example of why I love Binghamton.

Monday, April 28, 2014

It took a Cool Down to Heat Things Up

photo credit:
The Greater Binghamton Bridge Run is less than a week away and I am starting to get excited. No, I am not a runner and, to be honest, I don't have any plans to ever become one. 

However, the Bridge Run and its signature post-race event "The Cool Down" will always hold special places in my heart. It was a chance meeting during the 2013 "Cool Down" that the seeds for Patti Loves Bing were sown.  

A year ago, I was at a loss. I was trying to come up with a way to give back to a community full of some amazing people and organizations who give of their time, energy and love to make this a better place to live. My financial resources were extremely limited making the usual route of attending as many fundraising events as possible not feasible. 

It was at this chance meeting a year ago, during "The Cool Down", that a friend suggested I brand myself as Patti Loves Bing; that I highlight all that was good about Binghamton - the places, the people, the food, and, of course, the many nonprofit organizations. 

I am extending an invitation to all who are in or near Binghamton on Sunday, May 4th to come on out to "The Cool Down 2014".  Follow the Cool Down trail. Who knows? You may also find yourself embarking on an incredible journey just as I did. If not, at least you can partake of the specials being offered at the different venues; many of which are available to all; not just the runners.  You never know; you may even happen upon an impromptu Patti Loves Bing 1st Birthday party.

For more information on the Greater Binghamton Bridge Run, check out their Facebook page here and their website here.  Information on The Cool Down can be found on Facebook here and on their website here.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Once, There Was A Place....

Sunset over the Chenango River, Binghamton NY
Once, there was a place;  a sad and dreary place.  Even the prominent color throughout this land was grey.  It was that certain shade of grey that had a tendency to grip you at your very core.  The one shade that made everything and everyone it touched become colder, drearier and just plain miserable.
Then something began to change.  It was not a dramatic change.  It was actually imperceptible at first; but it was a change nonetheless. Slowly the gray began to wash away.  Not because of what one person or group did or said.  It was a combination of factors and a combination of people who all had one thing in common; their love for this place they called home.
It was a consensus of vision.  A vision of home that demanded a change. A change in appearance,a change in color and, most importantly, a change in attitude.  It was time to wash the grey out of everyone’s hearts.

To all the groups, organizations, and individuals who strive everyday to add another splash of color from their positive attitude palettes, I thank you. This place thanks you.  You have not only shone light on the beauty of this place; but you have helped to open others’ hearts allowing the grey to  wash away.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Collaboration... Moving Binghamton Forward

What do the Crime Victims Assistance Center, Inc. (CVAC), the Know TheatreSouthern Tier Aids Program (STAP), Tri-Cities Opera (TCO) have in common?  Other than being several of Binghamton's many community organizations, not very much; until this weekend.  

Each of these very distinct nonprofit organizations joined forces for a common cause. The Crime Victims Assistance Program staged the "The Vagina Monologues" with the generous support of the Know Theatre giving of its space, staff and assistance in getting the word out over all the social media channels.  It was due to this collaborative effort that the both the Friday and Saturday performance played to sold out audiences raising both awareness and much needed funds for CVAC.

STAP and TCO presented a joint fundraising event on Saturday in the form of "Singing with the Stars". It was a night of opera stars, local celebrities and drag queens performing duets on stage in the pursuit of the most votes.  The winning celebrity won a coveted star in the Tri-Cities Opera House restroom 

Of course, these are just two recent examples. Our local government officials and businesses need to take note of these efforts. It is time to put aside political differences and, often times, cutthroat competitiveness to work toward moving Binghamton forward.  If Binghamton moves forward in a positive and constructive manner, we all benefit from it.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Let's Not Forget Why There is a Binghamton Parade Day

2013 St. Patrick's Day Parade
The Binghamton St. Patrick's Day parade is tomorrow. An annual event meant to celebrate the contributions made by the Irish immigrants, not only to this area, but to American society, overall.  While I am not a prohibitionist by any means, and nor do I fault the local Binghamton bar owners from capitalizing on what may possibly be one of their most profitable days of the year; I do take exception to the overwhelming promotion of the day being solely for drinking and seeing who can make the biggest fool of themselves.

Now, I realize that many of you will not agree with me on this. That is fine. But I cannot be the only one who takes offense to status updates asking if we have started drinking yet for parade day? We need to come together as a community and positively promote Binghamton.  If someone totally unfamiliar with Binghamton were to scroll through my news feed today, they would assume; wrongly, of course, that all we do is brag about drinking and getting wasted.

Is this the Binghamton we want to promote to potential new businesses who could bring much needed jobs to the area?  Is this the Binghamton we want to celebrate; not only on parade day, but throughout the year?

If the answer is a resounding yes; then I will stick my tail between my legs and not say another word about the matter.  I strongly believe many feel the same way I do.  There is a time and a place for a beer or two.  There are several pre and post parade events scheduled.  I, myself, have plans on attending several of them. Let's keep the parade's true meaning in mind and be respectful of those who are actually there to enjoy it with their friends and family.  You never know who may be standing next to you on the sidewalk; it could be the CEO of a major corporation looking to move his or her entire operation (including jobs) into the Greater Binghamton area.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Binghamton's Wintry Beauty

If you are anything like me, you probably have had enough of the snow and cold right about now. Yet, it is only mid-February and we have a good month and a half before we see any semblance of Spring.  So why fight it?

Even as the piles grow taller and the snow fades from a bright white, there is still something magical about Binghamton in the Winter.

As the icicles continue to grow thicker and longer, though they pose a potential safety risk; you cannot stop an admire how they reflect the light around them or how they mimic the roots of the trees that soon will be sprouting the welcoming greening of spring.

While the snow and ice may be piling up on the rivers, we need to remind ourselves that underneath the continually growing piles, there is an entire ecosystem flourishing.  We will soon be greeted by the flowing waters of the Chenango and Susquehanna teeming with the flora and fauna that only Mother Nature can provide.  

As we seem to receive one snowfall after another, to the extent that we are either ready to cry, scream, hide or a combination of all three; take a moment and reflect on the beauty of it all. There is a certain magical peacefulness that falls over Binghamton that shouldn't be ignored.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Binghamton - Where Everyone Knows Your Name

One of the amazing things about Binghamton is that everyone seems to know everyone else. Some may find this creepy; I find it one of the more endearing qualities of our community.

How often have you entered a local bar, restaurant, store or community gathering place to be greeted with a "Norm!!!" like hello before the door has had a chance to close behind you?  Then, there is always the one pair of friends who can be found in the same seats each and every night - one telling one-liners and the other trying to prove how much useless knowledge one human can store in their head.  Oh, I could go on, believe me.  I have been there and done that many a night while watching Cheers re-runs.  

That is not the point of this post.  This is not meant to call out Binghamtonians by name. No, I am writing this to find out if and where have you experienced the "Cheers effect" in Binghamton. I would love to hear about your experiences.  

All you need to do is comment directly on this post or on our Facebook page with the name of establishment and why it makes you think of Cheers. As hard as it may be, please do not start rattling off names of people who remind you of certain characters.  We will let that be our little secret.

Now, cue the theme song......

Monday, January 20, 2014

Happy Martin Luther King Day, Binghamton!

One thing that Binghamton does not lack is diversity.  Diversity in its residents, businesses and its neighborhoods. Unfortunately, we still have a way to go to achieve full tolerance of among all in this diverse city that we call home.

No one place is perfect; even the Garden of Eden had its flaws.  Rather than harping on the negatives; let's all work together to promote the positives and offer concrete and useful suggestions on how to fix what is lacking.  

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'"
Each year, Americans across the country answer that question by coming together on the King Holiday to serve their neighbors and communities.  My challenge to all of you is that we all come together in our own ways, big or small, to serve our Binghamton neighbors and collective community.
While I strive to do my small part with my daily blog and Facebook posts, I know I can do so much more.  I hope you will join me.