Friday, May 29, 2015

When a Binghamton Stroll is Just Enough

All too often we get caught up in the events that are happening in our city that we fail to acknowledge the simple things that make Binghamton special. Please do not get me wrong; there is always something going on in Binghamton and no one event or activity is more important than the other. I am in no way suggesting that you shouldn't take advantage of the live music, the outdoor dining experiences, the art shows, the 5k runs or the street festivals. Sometimes we just need to step away from all the planning and organizing to appreciate the little things. 

Last night was what many would consider the perfect late spring evening in Binghamton. Comfortably warm with low humidity accompanied by an ever so slight breeze. The ideal walking weather. So, that is what I did. I took advantage and strolled down Court Street.  This is not the first time, nor would it be the last. Each and every time that I take one of these strolls I am reminded of why so many of us do what we do; promoting everything about Binghamton - the good and the sometimes not so good with just the right amount of quirkiness thrown into the mix.

You never know when you will come across a dog standing guard in the sidewalk planter, 

or a local artist making the best use of the light to harness their creativity.

There are the skateboarding buddies getting together to practice their sport while

the local mallard is surveying its domain.

There are times when you will find you are not the only one out and about. 

Then, again, you find that you are the only one; which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

A Binghamton stroll is just enough to clear your head, refocus and appreciate all the that our city has to offer. These offerings would not be possible if not for all the dedicated local business owners, organizations, musicians, artists and performers who make sure that my calendar is full. Thank you to all of them for making it so much easier and so much more enjoyable to do this.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Rumors Are True

For quite sometime, I have been hearing rumors about the "Belmar Burger". "It's the best thing to hit your taste buds!" It's heaven on a bun!" I could go on and on with the comments I have heard.

While not a stranger to the Belmar Pub, an iconic Westside Binghamton mainstay, there were obstacles that prevented me from actually checking out the validity of these rumors. That is until today.

Folks, believe every single one of the rumors you've heard touting how delicious the Belmar Burger creations are. Yes, I meant to type the plural form of creations since your choices are only limited by your imagination.

The burgers are handmade to order with an endless choice of toppings. If you are really adventurous, you can even forgo the usual bun in favor of garlic cheese waffles. Since this was my first excursion into the world of the Belmar Burger, I chose the Bronco Burger (without the sliced Jalapenos). Upon placing my order, I settled down in the corner and observed what can only be compared to a scene from the classic TV show "Cheers".

There were the those that appeared to be the regulars; being greeted by name as they entered the bar. I actually found myself a little disappointed that there was no one by the name of Norm. The conversations were your everyday type about the weather, their family lives, their jobs, and, of course, "deflate-gate".  I was enjoying being an observer to this little microcosm of Binghamton life; however, this was to be a working lunch so I quickly got back to work on my laptop until my meal arrived.

Arrived it did; in all it's glory. A half pound, perfectly seasoned patty grilled to perfection. A nice char on the outside holding in all the glorious juiciness inside. The cheese was not your everyday slice of Kraft American. It was a molten silky mass of cheddar goodness. All of this was nestled on a toasted roll, not your normal hamburger bun, slathered with mayo and BBQ sauce and topped with golden onion rings. I had to ask for a knife and fork as it was too big for the normal two handed hunch method of eating a burger. It had me at the first bite and it will draw you into its decadent clutches, as well.

In my opinion, if you want to experience what could possible be the best burger ever, you need to head on down to the Belmar Pub for lunch or dinner. On a good day, you can enjoy your meal out on their back patio and possibly catch a live performance from local area musicians.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Be Proud Binghamton Graduates; We Certainly Are

Around this time last year, I wrote a post to the 2014 Binghamton University graduates (Open Letter to Binghamton University Graduates). I toyed briefly with the idea of simply sharing it this year; but that would have been the easy way out. Why should I take the easier route when thousands of you made the conscious decision to pursue some of the most rigorous courses of study in the nation? You should all be extremely proud of your academic achievements over these last four years. 

More importantly, you should be proud of what your presence and engagement within the Binghamton community has achieved. There was so much more than the positive economic impact your presence here has had on our community. Many of you have gone above and beyond to volunteer your time, your talents and your enthusiasm to local organizations and causes in our community. We will be eternally grateful for the commitment you have shown your adopted hometown.

As you prepare to walk during graduation weekend, it will not only be your family and friends seated in the University Events Center cheering you on to a job well-done and a successful future. If you listen very closely, you will hear the cheering of the entire Binghamton community wishing you well as you begin the next chapter in your lives. 

Congratulations, Binghamton University Class of 2015! 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Binghamton Bench Experience

There are quite a few of us who promote what is happening in and around Binghamton. Many focus on a particular event or venue either for personal and/or professional reasons. As one of these "promoters", I tend to forget that there is more to Binghamton than the businesses, the events and the daily restaurant specials. 

This past weekend, during a lull in the whirlwind of events, I found myself on a Court Street bench experiencing Binghamton from a forgotten perspective. It was an unseasonably warm evening, the sidewalk was busier than normal with couples strolling hand in hand and families pushing strollers taking in the cooling night air. No one seemed rushed during my people watching experience. They were relaxed and friendly; greeting each other and me with smiles and cheerful hellos. Occasionally, some would stop and point out a particular building or store front. I was quickly reminded that no matter how many new businesses open, how many special events are planned downtown or how much revitalization of the downtown infrastructure there is; the people of Binghamton are what truly matters.

We have a tendency to forget this. We get so caught up in who has the best dinner special or who has the next best musical act performing. We forget that these are just added bonuses. The true beauty of Binghamton can be seen from its benches along Court Street. All you need to do is grab a spot and create your own Binghamton Bench Experience.