Thursday, December 24, 2015

Season's Greetings, Binghamton

On this unseasonably warm Christmas Eve, let us all keep in mind that it is not now much money you spend or how many presents you receive. The true spirit of the season is found among our family, friends and neighbors. 

Over the last twelve months, I have seen this spirit permeate throughout our community at each and every event I have had the pleasure and honor of attending. Our community has come together in both good times and bad. Thankfully, 2015 had more good than bad. However, no matter the circumstances Binghamtonians have proudly stood by and with each other.

I wish each and everyone of you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Festivus and a Very Happy New Year.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving Week, Binghamton!

As we enter Thanksgiving week, our thoughts turn to time with family and friends over turkey, stuffing and pie. We also think back over the past year and offer thanks for the good we have experienced and seen over the last twelve months.

It is difficult, at times, to see past the negative surrounding us on a daily basis. We have all experienced setbacks, loss and hardships in our personal and professional lives. The Binghamton community has proven that there is always something to be thankful for.

Binghamton, we offer our thanks. Thank you for opening our senses to newly discovered music, art and theater. Thank you for expanding our taste buds with the ever growing dining options. Thank you for playing host to the parades and festivals that draw hundreds, if not thousands, to the Binghamton area. Thank you for giving of your time and financial resources to those who need it the most at the many charitable events that happened throughout the year.

Finally, thank you for allowing us to experience it all with you. 

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Dear Binghamton

Dear Binghamton,

For years you have endured the reputation of being an aging rust belt city in the heart of Upstate New York. You have survived two devastating floods within a five year span; a senseless mass shooting that garnered national attention; your unemployment rate and poverty level are both among the highest in the state; and your infrastructure, at times, may leave something to be desired. 

Despite all this, you have managed to rise like a phoenix from the ashes. 

There will always be those who refuse to say anything positive or encouraging about you. They find fault with you and those who work so hard to make this a better place to live, work and study. 

Sadly, when your supporters lash out defensively toward these detractors, nothing is accomplished. A wider divide is forged between your cheerleaders and those having difficulty acknowledging the progress that has and continues to be made. 

Truthfully, there will always be those that will verbally attack anyone who is trying to promote your progress, beauty and diversity. Retaliation against these attacks only serves to bring your supporters down to the haters' level and does not bode well for your image. 

Binghamton, you have much to offer the residents, students, businesses and professionals that call you home. Your strength and endurance to overcome the worst that nature, economics and basic human foibles have cast upon you is something to celebrate. You are the beacon of hope for a better future. One that your supporters who are, at times standing alone in their confidence of you, can look toward for continuing strength and inspiration. 


One of your biggest fans

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Embracing Binghamton's Renaissance

This morning, I was gently reminded by our good friends over at Facebook headquarters of a status update posted three years ago on my personal timeline. Posted before this blog and its own Facebook page were even in existence:

"What a difference two decades make! 20 years ago, I became a Binghamton resident. A Binghamton that resembled a ghost town after dark and on the weekends. A Binghamton where the only entertainment to be found was roaming the mall (in Johnson City) or getting in your car to explore Ithaca, Syracuse or Scranton. Now residents from those areas (and many others) are coming here to participate in the seemingly endless list of activities and events going on. There are festivals, art walks, local theater productions, masquerade balls, races, golf tournaments, concerts, various sports events, and, even duck races thrown in for added excitement. The sidewalks are busy (maybe, not bustling - but it is not New York City and should not be compared to it). We are now at a point where instead of saying, "there is nothing to do here", we are asking ourselves, "how do we find the time to fit everything in?""

Three years later and Binghamton is better than ever due in a large part to the ever growing community of people who put their hearts and souls into making a difference. People who refuse to allow the naysayers and their perpetual negative commentary from slowing them down. Individuals who provide outlets for creative, artistic and musical expression to be enjoyed by their fellow Binghamtonians; which in turn sparks all our imaginations of the future of the area. 

Folks who understand that their efforts are to be viewed as complements to what our local government officials and business owners are striving to accomplish in what can only be described as a renaissance. These men and women, for the most part, do not expect or demand any compensation for their efforts. The simple show of support and the smile on the faces of those who partake in the fruits of their endeavors is compensation enough to last a lifetime.

The next time you attend an event of any kind in the Binghamton area, please take a moment to thank those that made it possible. Remember, if not for them, Binghamton would still be a ghost town complete with tumbleweeds blowing down Court Street. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

31st Annual Spiedie Fest & Balloon Rally

Two years ago today, I wrote a blog post about the annual Spiedie Fest & Balloon Rally (Spiedie Fest & Balloon Rally: It's More Than Just Marinated Meat & Balloons). Granted, it was not my best journalistic effort, by any means, as I was new to the entire blogging concept. However, my thoughts concerning how this event reinforces the sense of community have not changed over the last two years. In fact, at the conclusion of this past weekend, I am more convinced than ever of how important this and similar events are to any community. 

This year was very different for me on a more personal level. It was the first year that I volunteered for the Spiedie Fest Committee. It's not everyday someone is privy to the amount of work that goes into an event such as this. The simple coordination of volunteer coverage at the entrance gates and on-site parking lots are not for the weak of heart or spirit. Before I continue with this, I must give a huge shout out to all those on the committee for doing what you do year after year.

Working at the entrance gate off the Bevier Street bridge provided me with the opportunity to observe how events such as this bring so many different segments of the community together. There were the young families with their strollers, baby carriers and wagons. The pure excitement on the faces of the children was enough to melt anyone's heart. 

There were the couples, young and old, who walked hand in hand through the gate and beyond. There was the group of young women, all decked out in the appropriate attire, celebrating a bachelorette party at the fest. For me, the most heartwarming of all was the exuberance on the faces and in the voices of those entering the park from several local organizations with their aides. To see how excited these individuals were, who must deal with varying degrees of disability on a daily basis, to be entering the park is something that will stick with me for a very long time.

So, again, it is not just about marinated meat or balloons. It is a combination of many factors all linked together by a common thread; the people. 

When it became apparent that the wind conditions were not favorable for evening launches on both Saturday and Sunday; there was no anger or mass exodus. People, young and old, lingered and enjoyed the simple companionship of family, friends and perfect strangers. Isn't this what being a part of a community is all about? 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Playing Catch Up

Much has happened in and around Binghamton since my last post. Granted, some of the events were unexpected and not pleasant; however, I will leave it up to our local media outlets to cover those. 

As for the positive things that happened in our area, there are just too many for one person to attend. Here is a snapshot of a few of the events I had the pleasure of attending these past two weeks.

Binghamton's Office of Economic Development takes over the Chenango River Promenade and Peacemaker's Stage for an outdoor Binghamton Music and Arts Series, Live on the Waterfront, on certain Fridays during the summer months. Friday, July 17th was no exception. You can stroll among the artist tables, grab a bite to eat from several food trucks or even sample some local craft beer while listening to a local band playing on the stage. The next scheduled Live on the Waterfront event is Friday, July 31st.  More information can be found on the official event page here

The Southern Tier AIDS Program (STAP) held its annual Doggone Fun on the Run at Otsiningo Park. The very successful event raised in excess of $13,000 in support of the programs offered by STAP to the community. For more information on The Southern Tier AIDS Program and the services it provides, click here.

Surely one of the biggest fundraising events of the year for the Broome County Humane Society has to be its annual Duck Derby. This year, they were not going to let high water and strong currents in the Chenango River put a damper on the event. The organizers, along with the Binghamton Fire Department, put their heads together and designed, created and successfully executed the largest water slide in Binghamton history; to the delight of those who adopted close to 10,000 rubber ducks. The Broome County Humane Society is a local nonprofit that survives on donations without the help of government funding. For more information on how you can help, please click here.

These are just a few of the events that happen here in Binghamton on a regular basis benefiting both its economic development and the organizations serving members of the community. It is impossible for one person to attend each and every event. If you are interested in what is happening on any given day, make sure you check out the list of events at What's Goin' On Binghamton? and BingPop.  You can also find listings on various local media websites, in the weekly Good Times section of the Press & Sun Bulletin and the monthly calendar of events page in Triple Cities Carousel.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Appreciating The Beauty Around Us

As I look back on the past seven days, I am humbled by the beauty I encountered; both inside and outside of Binghamton's city limits. Our perception of beauty is just that; our own perception. Beauty can be found in nature, people, animals and even in the arts whether it be visual, musical or dramatic.

 My week began with an afternoon at Confluence Park in the heart of Downtown Binghamton. For those who are not familiar with the area, this city park gets its name from its location at the confluence of the Chenango and Susquehanna Rivers. I arrived on the rare occasion when it was not being used for wedding pictures.

I couldn't think of a better place to wind down after several days of non-stop activity.  It was the perfect spot to relax before heading into the new work week.  

I shared this oasis of beauty with one other soul. A lone fisherman who didn't seem to mind that I was taking his picture and possibly revealing his private fishing spot.

On Tuesday, I attended Broome County's Broome Bands Together concert at Otsiningo Park. These are free concerts for area residents to gather and enjoy the music, the beauty of the park and each other's company.

Later on came a trip up to Harpursville to Animal Adventure Park. I am embarrassed to admit that this was my first time up to the park. However, it will definitely not be my last. I find it amazing that we have at our disposal a facility such as this only 20 miles from Binghamton.

Friday brought the kickoff of the annual JulyFest Binghamton weekend. Downtown Binghamton was overflowing with positive energy. The streets came alive with event goers enjoying the beauty of art, the live music and the perfect weather.

The seven days concluded last night with a unique talent show, Twisted T's Twilight Talent, held at Snidley's in Endicott. The night provided a unique mix of hooping, belly dancing, burlesque and drag with the performers showcasing their talents both inside and out under the stars. It was the beauty of dance, makeup, comedy and sheer artistry throughout the evening that served as a perfect ending to the week.

Granted, these are only a few examples of where we can all find and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us. Many of you may have attended a play, went kayaking on one of the nearby rivers or hiked one of the countless nature trails nearby. Maybe you settled down in a hammock in your backyard watching the clouds drift lazily by or you witnessed your child hitting their first little league home run. Any of these moments can be beautiful in their own way. It is how we perceive our surroundings and the people we share them with that creates the beauty.

Wishing all of you a beautiful week ahead.