Fireworks event attracts families

Activities were added to create a daylong festival at Dwyer Memorial Park.


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Achild swings while watching fireworks Saturday at Dwyer Memorial Park on Little York Lake. Families turned out for daytime activities and stayed for the evening show.

Staff Reporter

LITTLE YORK — When people say that they’re going to watch “the fireworks,” they’re really only telling a tiny part of the truth. After all, the fireworks only lasted about 30 minutes, but many in the crowd Saturday at Dwyer Memorial Park on Little York Lake had been there since the afternoon.
Geoff and Melissa Sorenson of Homer had brought their son Sammy, 1, to the park around 4 p.m. and were grilling burgers for dinner, the telltale mustard around Sammy’s mouth indicating that Sammy had already enjoyed one.
“It was actually a last minute thing, we finished some work around the house and just decided to head up here, let Sammy splash around in the kiddy pool,” Geoff Sorenson said. “It was so packed, I didn’t even know if we’d get a grill, because we’d stopped on the way to get burgers. But they’ve got plenty of room.”
Jacob Doster, 7, of LaFayette, his uncle Gary Stoddard and family friend Nick Cameron, 16, both of Nedro, were packing up their fishing gear as the early evening light reflected orange off of the water.
“I caught two fish — a bluegill and a sunfish,” Doster said. “We’re having a picnic up on the hill, waiting for the fireworks, of course,” Stoddard said as he started back to the site.
Polly Wright of Tully and her friend Iris Cosimo of Cortland sat enjoying the music of the Old Timer’s Band next to the Dwyer Park pavilion, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. Wright’s husband, Robert, plays in the ensemble.
“They play every year, and then there’s a Dixieland band group playing after this is finished, and my husband’s in that, too,” Wright said. “We stay for everything.”
“I’m not staying for the fireworks,” Cosimo said. “I stayed last year, and it took too long to get home.”
Bill Cromp and JoAnne Case of Cortland sat together in the evening in folding chairs.
“We got here at 3 o’clock — We got here late,” Case said jokingly.
“We got here, cooked our supper, and now we’re just waiting for the fireworks,” Cromp said.
Every few minutes, Cromp would light some smoke bombs as well as some intricate, three-stage sparklers that he had bought in Pennsylvania.
“We already did a whole bunch. We’ve got some good ones saved for the (Fourth of July),” Case said.
“I don’t see why they don’t make the big ones legal for one day a year,” Cromp said, allowing that people would still have to get a permit.
The Y Service Club from the YMCA sold concessions behind the backstop of the baseball diamond, in addition to the commemorative bricks from the former-Wickwire Building on south Main Street, which had been destroyed by fire in December. Each brick was stamped with a plaque that numbered it as one of 1,000 bricks salvaged from Wickwire Building No. 37, a warehouse that had been built in 1925. The building’s owner, David McNeil, had donated the bricks.
“The money is to support the various activities of the Y, and the purchase of equipment,” said volunteer Arlene Dean. “And it’ll also go to some philanthropic projects for the community.”
The event sponsors — the Cortland County Chamber of Commerce, Cortland Regional Medical Center, Sciarabba Walker & Co., Alliance Bank and Wal-Mart — had provided some different family events at this year’s event, said Garry VanGorder, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce.
“We had arts and crafts, we had some games that the kids could play, and each year we’re going to try to figure out some other things,” VanGorder said. “People just come to enjoy the park. It’s a fun thing, I think, for the community, and that’s why the sponsors are involved with it.”
As twilight set in and the 10 p.m. fireworks start time neared, people quieted down except for the occasional teenager shouting at friends in the dark.
Andrew Travis, 18, of Cortland said that he had been hanging out with friends and family for about an hour.
“I wanna see car alarms go off,” Travis said as the first salvo hit the air. He tossed a glow stick up into the air and tumbled off the trunk of the car he had been sitting on in an attempt to catch it.
The streaking shells took off from down near the lake, the muted glow of flares caught in the smoke of the ignitions; Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” could just be heard between the explosions.
The display began almost frantically before gradually easing off and allowing the individual fireworks to hang in the sky and slowly fade away against the deep black curtain of night.
“We wait till everybody leaves, because last year we saw a bunch of people leaning out their windows and screaming,” said Connie Muzzy of Groton.
Muzzy sat under the tailgate of a mini-van with her daughter CeAnne Lacey, 2, as the girl wearily played with a fading glow stick and clutched a doll by one arm.
“She cried when the fireworks first went off,” Muzzy said. “You know those things people put on their ear when they’re mowing yards? We had to put those on her ears.”
Once the noise was taken care of, Muzzy said, her daughter loved the fireworks.



Area 51 reopens after fire

Shop expands offerings in new location on Main Street as it recovers from Squires Building fire.

Staff Reporter

Aaron Patterson browsed the CD collection Saturday morning in Area 51’s new storefront at 17 Main St. Patterson had driven all night from Vanceboro, N.C., which he moved to about a year ago from Cortland.
“I haven’t been here in nine months. It’s my absolute favorite store,” Patterson said, referring to Area 51’s previous location in the Squires Building, which succumbed to fire in April.
“I heard that Area 51 went down, so I said, ‘If A Pizza & More had to rebuild, Area 51 had to rebuild.’ So I started looking for it and I found it.”
Patterson had impeccable timing.
Area 51 — a card and video game, computer and T-shirt, sticker and poster and incense store — celebrated its grand opening Saturday with several promotions, including card-game tournaments.
Owner Francis Crowe said the store had been more or less open since June 1, and that he’s been slowly reconnecting with his regulars and his gamers for the past month, and holding sales of his fire-damaged inventory. Crowe had only just put the new sign up above the display windows at 7:30 Saturday morning.
“Everything’s been leading up to this — we’ve been saving up inventory. It’s going to take a while to get everything back,” Crowe said as customers toured the store. “We recovered nearly everything, but we were only able to salvage about 20 percent. We got nearly all of our CDs, DVDs and video games, but the cases were trashed by water. Our insurance didn’t cover as much as I’d hoped. So we’ve had to rebuild with a loss of 40 percent.”
Matthew Husar, 25, of McGraw had arrived a few minutes early and was waiting outside before the store opened its doors. He confessed that he had come in on Friday and bought an expansion deck for a new card-game called Hecatomb.
“It looks like they’ve got more stuff on the shelves,” Husar said as he peered through the windows.
Past the wall of incense and the wall of T-shirts, both of which have grown considerably, Crowe said, several long, white tables were lined with chairs and stacked with board games in the game area. Against the back wall, custom-built computers filled individual cubbies with headphones hanging beside them.
“It’s an Internet café set-up,” Crowe said, adding that all of the stores computers have been upgraded since re-opening.
Joe Abdallah, manager and computer specialist at Area 51, said the store will custom build computers.
As Patterson sat at a computer and got in some of the free-Internet time being given away at the door, Barklee Sanders, 12, played the X Box 360 in one of the plush, comfortable chairs and sofas next to the basketball arcade game, which was nestled in the back corner next to an electronic dart board.
“I’ve been here the last couple of days, looking around and thinking about buying (PC) games,” Sanders said, noting that the store looked bigger. “It’s got more stuff, like more variety. The cards are displayed so you can see them better.”
Fusar said he was probably going to grab some lunch and come back in the afternoon for gaming tournaments, but he was impressed by the new selection of snacks and drinks near the game tables.
“They didn’t have any provisions for food in the old store. This is a step up, definitely,” Fusar said, and Patterson wandered by, enthusiastically agreeing.
“This place is great, why wouldn’t you hang out here all day? I’m going to drag my brother by his ear down here,” Patterson said. “If there’s one thing I can say about this place — is they have everything.”
Crowe said he was proud of the youths who spent time in the store.
“When I was younger, I would have loved a store like this. So instead of looking for one, I made one,” Crowe said. “Seventy-percent of my friends I’ve met through the store, through gaming.”