Out for a Paddle

All the years growing up in Western New York and not once did any of us ever consider getting out on the snaking Allegheny River that winds through town. Not once*. A paddle or even a swim might as well have been a bike ride to the moon.

Yet, on this particular Saturday at least, groups of people – families, too – were pushing in rafts at various points along the river. Parking areas near recently constructed launch spots – built in response to the bump in water enthusiasts, I assume – were full, and, out on the roads, pick-ups hauling pairs of kayaks motored down side-streets. A fresh resurgence seems to have grabbed ahold of the old hometown. One project gives way to another – Good Times, a reconfigured main drag, a revived ball park and a new amateur baseball team to call it home, a coming hotel on a decades-old brownfield, an upstart brewing company to get excited about. God knows what else. Larger issues exist, of course, primarily the stagnant job market, which is nothing new for a town built on manufacturing. But, the front-facing stuff reflects, I think, a community believing in itself again, and it’s so awesome to see.

*Did our parents actively discourage this because – and who knows if this was/is actually true – the Allegheny was a cesspool of coliform bacteria, Mad Cow, SARS, Zika, etc.?

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