Tonawanda News — Some random thoughts on this 30th Canal Fest week:
I second News community editor Barbara Tucker’s sentiments in Saturday’s paper on the Canal Fest closing issue.
Months ago, the News editorial board sided with the City of Tonawanda Common Council in their decision to close the midway an hour earlier.
It was our judgment that the earlier closing would not pose a significant problem for the event. Many of the charities that operate food tents on the South Side have closed up shop by then.
The crowd that remained from 10 to 11 p.m. hewed young, and while the 14-to-16-year-old range makes up a significant percentage of fest-goers, they aren’t exactly big spenders.
Yes, it will make for a loss for the midway operator, but what clinched it for us — and for me, personally — was the fact that city police have ordered the midway closed early on several occasions previously due to security concerns.
We’ve seen serious assaults and countless disorderly conduct arrests in the festival’s waning hours over the years.
If the police have seen fit to close the event after something happens, it is prudent to order it closed earlier as a standing policy. Better to pre-empt trouble than wait and put officers and fest-goers alike in danger.
And if Canal Fest can shed the image of being overrun by rowdy teenagers after dark — which isn’t a fair characterization considering the vast majority of kids there are well behaved — it stands to gain as much in return with families staying longer and spending more money.
I will again this year purchase a veritable flotilla of rubber ducks for the duck race, though in now my fifth Canal Fest as editor of the Tonawanda News, I’ve never once picked a winner.
At least the money goes to a good cause. Niagara Hospice serves a vital role in the community and I don’t mind making a donation.
But it begs a question: Who’s the real winner? Hospice, or whoever makes all those rubber ducks?
This is right about the time every summer where my pledge to eat healthier and exercise more gets off track. I’ve yet to indulge in any of the food at the fest, but I know my time is coming.
Reporter Mike Regan came back to the office with nine perogis from the OLC tent and remarked that they reminded him of similar ethnic treat sampled on a trip to his wife’s home country of Malaysia.
“Except those were 10 cents each,” Mike noted.
“If you don’t count the $1,000 airfare,” I responded.
I’m sure Malaysian dumplings are fantastic but I’ll stick to OLC, thanks.
More on the effects of those perogis: Veteran News photographer Doug Benz who’s been shooting Canal Fest for nearly a decade, made a rookie mistake Tuesday.
His zeal for the OLC Polish platter led him to eat a big meal — right before the parade he was scheduled to photograph was about to start.
Let’s just say Doug was thankful parades don’t move very fast. He would have been left in the dust.
Doug acknowledged his mistake while splayed out on the couch in my office upon his return: Eat the Polish platter AFTER the parade!Eric DuVall is the managing editor of the Tonawanda News. His column appears Wednesdays and Sundays. Contact him at email@example.com.