WALKING THROUGH TIME: THE NEIGHBORHOODS OF TONAWANDA
A Review of “Warriors Walk Wednesdays”
Historical Walking Tours of Tonawanda Neighborhoods from Summer 2016
Presented by Skip Johnson, Board Member of the HSOT
Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at 7:00 PM
Community Room of Tonawanda City Hall
April marked Skip Johnson’s first anniversary of assuming, along with Ned Schimminger, the responsibility for staffing the Society’s Main Street museum. It was in April 2016 that the “baton” was passed to them by long-time staffers Pat and Carole Barnard (big shoes to fill!), and they have been busy “non-stop” ever since. There’s always something going on – an activity to plan for, an exhibit to put together, an email to respond to, or a phone call to be answered.
In the latter category, early last summer, the phone rang at the museum and Skip picked it up to find Joyce Hogenkamp, a City of Tonawanda resident, on the line. She informed him that a group of citizens, sponsored by Common Council President Jenna Koch, was starting a walking program every Wednesday night during the summer months. They were planning on walking a different neighborhood route each week and were wondering if the Society could provide some historical background and/or facts on each neighborhood to “keep things interesting” as they burned off a few calories for an hour or so. It sounded like a good idea to Skip, so he agreed to join the effort and try to come up with something for them. As such, “Warrior Walks” was born, and they were “off and running” (or we should say, “off and walking”).
So, for the next two months or so, they chose a different part of the city to traverse each week, with Beth Rosokoff and Joyce creating the specific route, while Skip came prepared with some historical nuggets to (hopefully) keep things interesting. If you recall, last summer was quite warm (actually, it was HOT!), and despite the heat wave they had pretty good turnouts – one week 30 of them were walking down Main Street and then up Grove Street (residents probably thought they were under attack!), with a weekly average of a very manageable 15-20 participants. They even attracted people from Buffalo and Kenmore, as well as (obviously) the City of Tonawanda.
Throughout the summer, Skip was very pleased to find that the participants seemed to enjoy learning about the landmarks and events of our past, and in many instances they were actually surprised and pleased at our rich history. For Skip personally, doing the research for these walks brought forth many incidents/events from “days gone by” that he either had forgotten, or simply never knew about in the first place. Best of all, the entire experience reflected our Society’s mission to preserve and promote the history of the Twin Cities.
April's program reviewed the various neighborhoods explored last summer – from Gastown to Riverview – and gave a “sneak peek” at the additional neighborhoods added to the 2017 schedule. Skip included a few “fun facts” discovered last summer.
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