To hail from Western New York, as I do, is to bear witness to good neighbors--good-hearted people who could walk straight from the movie set of "It's a Wonderful Life."
The city of Buffalo, known as "The City of Good Neighbors" is where you'll find people who genuinely care and come through for the underdog, whether in health, sports or academia. You name it, people get involved.
I was born and raised in WNY, in a lumber-city between Buffalo and Niagara Falls, NY.
We are spoiled, being home to the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ--concerts here outshine many by compare.
Where else in the world can you sit in a historic theater (reminiscent of Michael Bennett's "A Chorus Line" theater), watching in anticipation, as velvet curtains open, revealing a classic silent movie, projected on a large silver screen--accompanied by a lively performance on a Mighty Wurlitzer Pipe Organ, capable of making audience members literally feel the vibrations? That happens right here.
Organists from around the world come to the Riviera Theatre to experience the marvel of nearly dancing in their seat, as hands fly across the keyboards, opening stops, while their feet swing left and right, getting an all out work-out, whilst full-house audiences hang on to every note resonating off pipes, bells and whistles of the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ. Buy your ticket right now and take a seat!
My house has band organ and calliope music, same as the music playing for Merry-Go-Rounds. It's no big surprise, since I was born in a town which is home to musical band-organs and Carrousels--Herschell Spillman Merry-Go-Rounds.
We still have merry-go-rounds in operation--one has a seat with a spinning table in the center, like the teacups at Disneyland! Look, short line, no waiting. Hop on! Take a seat on the bench on the carrousel if that's your choice, or ride the moving up-and-down carrousel horse, with a long tail, leather reins, brass pole and ring, for children of all ages.
Living just blocks from the Erie Canal and the Niagara River, I spend time at the many waterways WNY has to offer. There are miles of walking and bicycling paths. There are miles of fishermen along Niagara's edge.
In North Tonawanda, at Fishermen's Park, you can see the largest Eagle, Globe and Anchor monument in the United States--a tribute to the United States Marines.
When I worked in tourist hospitality, a group of mothers traveled from all over the U.S. to visit and pay respects at this monument to United States Marines of the past, present and future.
When the lure of the Niagara River, the Erie Canal and the waterfalls at Niagara aren't enough to keep me intrigued, I spend hours at Lake Ontario watching ships go by. On occasion, I find lake tumbled sea glass washed up onto the Lake Ontario's sandy beach shoreline.
On a clear day the city of Toronto beacons the sunshine like the Emerald City--straight from Oz.
When the annual War of 1812 night-time re-enactment takes place at Fort Niagara, there's a silhouetted show of timeless military action, amid cannon-ball firing, smoke-filled skies, backlit by the magnificence of Niagara's setting sun in the Lake Ontario corridor.
Lake Erie has beholding too, a waterway in the string of Great Lakes which all totaled hold 1/5th of the world's fresh water supply.
Lake Erie's lighthouse is a beacon in the sun. The USS the Sullivans Naval ship-turned-museum and constant presence of people make for an intriguing visit to Lake Erie at Buffalo. The narrator aboard the Miss Buffalo creates a breeze good cheer, while in the canal locks, or passing landmarks congenially brought to our attention.
Winter at both Niagara and Lake Erie is popular with locals. Frozen wave-formed ice caves are something I had to see myself to believe, at Lake Erie's shoreline. I've seen fishermen dot the ice, with holes drilled and fishing lines dropped, in anticipation of catching the big one. But cavernous frozen waves? Who knew? And how about Niagara in winter? That's a snow-globe local secret itself!
Most folks aren't aware that Buffalo and all WNY is really the "Miami of the North." Any WNYer (including Buffalonians, folks!) can go outside in winter, and shovel snow whilst wearing shorts and a t-shirt on a now-and-then sunny, winter's day. The weather channel doesn't show you that!
I love being from and living again in WNY, Buffalo Metro area, Niagara Frontier, however you want to call it.
WNY is a secret awaiting the beholding discovery by folks from afar. This will be the grand place to retire!
Our weather provides the least danger and damage.
As for the snow, I call it insulation and inspiration.
It's a child's dream, to build forts and snowmen, make angels in the snow. It's a canvas for the artist and photographer--dreamscapes at a place I get to call home.
Entrepreneurial ambitious folks work seasonal second jobs, willingly plowing snow. Any snowbird can appreciate the availability of that service!
For those who love nature, history, agriculture and archeology, there's enough here to keep you active for years.
I love the view from the Niagara escarpment. Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio experienced that same view, from a renowned restaurant atop the hill, while Marilyn was filming the movie "Niagara." At the time, the scene of Marilyn walking at the Falls, was the longest single cut of a person walking in film history. When you visit or vacation at Niagara, you can create your own walk.
You catch people wind surfing, river boating, lake sailing, kayaking and canoeing in the many WNY waterways. Step away from the water yourself and take a swing at any well-manicured golf course the Niagara Region has to offer. Even Tiger's done that.
Join the rest of the world right here, by geocaching WNY. There are many hidden treasures ready for the hunt. Find a treasure, leave a treasure. Geocache with a friend, bring the family. Get your GPS & compass ready! Begin the hunt. Lookout for ruggles!
Those who love culture, sports, the arts, education and architecture, can come meet the businesses, athletes, artists and educators who make up the tapestry of WNY.
Take a seat in a stadium in WNY and be among the record-breaking audiences in hockey, la crosse, minor league baseball, NFL football and collegiate--Rah!
Any night of the week, all summer long you can "dance to the music" at a stadium, in the bleachers, on a lawnchair, on the grass or in the sand--at the river, canalside, the center of downtown, at an array of community parks or at the steps of a gallery where you can see a Van Gogh.
Beyond the steps and columns of the Albright Knox Art Gallery, see galleries and buildings from 1800's to present-day all over WNY--an array of architectural structures. There's more than Frank Lloyd Wright to appreciate. Beyond famed architecture, there's much to marvel at--stone, brick-and-mortar, ornate wood. Entire blocks in historic neighborhoods line nearly every WNY city, village and town.
In Lockport, after you walk on the widest bridge in North America, you can count the many cupulos atop houses on one-way streets.
From Buffalo to Niagara you can follow the Freedom Trail, a lesson in Black History and the Underground Railroad.
Reach Route 104, a.k.a Million Dollar Highway, stretching from the year-round arts village of Lewiston to Rochester, NY--home of the little yellow box of Kodak film that's captured memories since the late 1800's.
You might even see a horse and buggy. Between Lewiston and Rochester, you might see a horse and buggy. We definitely see horses, llamas and tractor driven hay rides. There's barely a territory without railroad tracks.
WNY is laden with railroads and aficionados. Ride Amtrak or ride a steam-engine. Either way, feel the vibration and hear the whistles blow--any day or night of the week.
Like most people who return to WNY, as I did, we return partly for the 4 seasons. Pick one--you can snow shoe, cross-country or downhill ski, fly a kite, walk in the park, collect leaves of many colors. Seal the leaves in wax paper, and feel like a kid again.
Aim your camera or binoculars on a bald eagle--one of my favorite things. Sometimes no binoculars are needed. Just look up or across. WNY is a major avian flyway with experts at hand to help you learn and to name what you see. In winter, Niagara holds more gulls than anywhere else in the world, if what I remember from years ago holds true.
Anyone crazy about strawberries or blueberries? U-pick those here. Have wine from grapes of Niagara Region vineyards; blueberries from orchards of Humphrey, NY. Taste fresh-pressed WNY apple cider. I know when I make applesauce, it's so fresh, the apples were in the orchards days ago, here in Niagara County.
You can tap maple syrup in WNY. I haven't done that yet, but I can smell the aroma already.
The aroma takes me right to the Farmer's Market. It's been a North Tonawanda hot-spot for 100 years! It's a year-round busy place. Locally grown fruits, vegetables, baked goods and cider abound. Sure, in winter you might see frost on whiskers, but these WNY farmers are doing what they love. They'll serve you with a smile, get back to their fired-up heater and wrap their hands around a steaming cup of coffee or cocoa.
Chowder, home-made, ready-to-eat, is a local treat I savor--vegetable chowder with beef or chicken--made special by local firemen and church parishioners. There's even a chowder cook-off. Hundreds of gallons sell-out in an hour. Bring your kettle and get in line--it's going fast!
Make reservations and place an order with nearly all of WNY on a Friday night--get your WNY Fish Fry--baked or deep-fried fish, with potato, macaroni, coleslaw, french-fries and rye bread with butter. I choose baked fish and skip the fries.
Get real "Buffalo Wings" in WNY. There's a festival for that. There's a Peach Festival too. There are festivals every week in summer serving up ethnic and American fare.
Some folks prefer dinner with family at a round table. You can do that here too. Have a Roast Beef-on Weck and loganberry softdrink while you're at it. It's local.
Visit Buffalo and you may just want to move here, be part of a most giving area of the US.
Buffalo, NY may be the second poorest large city in the nation, but it's ranked a most giving city in the nation. Reminds me of "My Fair Lady." Reminds me of verses from the Bible.
In WNY, you too can attest, "to everything there is a season..." I get to attest to it every single day.