“…and the snow and cold weather don’t help either.”
If you’re like me and have had a few thousand conversations about why residents have been fleeing Rust Belt cities for decades, you know that the above sentence invariably and anecdotally follows 5-6 semi-factual examples like taxes, jobs, etc. Living in a city that receives nearly 100 inches of snow per year, one of the most frequent sticking points for naysayers of any kind of outdoor installation is “it’ll only get used 6 months out of the year, what a waste.”
This year, The City Of Rochester and key sponsors took a strong step forward toward embracing the winter months instead of accepting them as a time for hibernation by building the Roc Holiday Village in downtown’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park. Months of construction came to fruition, including the building of a wood-plank base for stability, and a series of sturdy “pop-up” tents for food and retail vendors, transforming an underused park space into a downtown winter destination.
Last Friday, I visited the park and was blown away by the number of people that were there. Families with small children, 20-somethings enjoying beer and wine, couples and groups, and plenty of mature adults looking for a good time… it was a beautiful and powerful mix of curious Greater Rochester residents looking to connect for a fun winter event.
Our cold-weather cities talk about how to keep our local spirits high during the darkest months of grey skies and freezing temperatures… but Rochester found the right recipe for doing just that. The success of the Roc Holiday Village, and the thousands of people who have enjoyed it this season shows us all that winter festivals and creative planning can continue our love affair with fun, beautiful and vibrant urban activity all year round.