By Norma Higgs
Niagara Gazette — I am playing hooky this week and not writing about local landmark schools so I can talk about some things happening in April in our community.
The Beautify Niagara citywide cleanup campaign is now in the middle of signing up new volunteers and those who keep coming back each year to help the Niagara Beautification Commission keep Niagara Beautiful. The date is Saturday, April 20 and we will be meeting again at 8 a.m. at the Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel “under the arch” on Fourth Street.
This is the eighth year they have been hosting the kickoff and we thank them for their hospitality. They provide a continental breakfast to start everyone off with a little energy. Our crew signs in previously registered volunteers and they receive bags and gloves for their group. Following a thank you from the mayor and a few words from the fire chief who serves as the honorary chair of the event and our new Niagara Beautification Commission Chair, Tom Lowe, everyone gathers in front of a fire truck for a photo op and then heads out to their designated spot.
Workers in the Highland Avenue area meet at the police substation resource center and the Highland Community Revitalization Corp. organizes that area assigning hot spots that need attention. Since we are fortunate to have two crews from the Niagara County Sheriff’s Work Force on that date, we usually assign one out there to do some of the heavy lifting. Joy Martin of the S. C. Martin Group, a local contractor provides a truck each year to cart big stuff away and drop off bags of mulch for them. May Nix and Betty Youngblood man the food counter at the resource center and serve a light breakfast and coffee for the workers. The volunteers who choose to work in LaSalle can come to the casino or meet at the Prince of Peace Church in LaSalle between 8 and 9 a.m. to pick up their bags and gloves.
Following the kickoff, I head out to take some quick photos of as many of the groups hard at work as I can reach during the morning. Then at noon all are invited to the Oasis Shelter at Hyde Park for a hot dog picnic to brag about what they did and have some general camaraderie. We have some great local sponsors who have been with us for all these years providing the refreshments. The Niagara Gazette provides the hot dogs, Tops Friendly Markets and DiCamillo’s provide the buns, Sam’s Club gives us condiments, water and charcoal and more water comes from Walmart and Great American Clean Up in Buffalo.
Piccirillo Florist joined the ranks this year with something for the sweet tooth. So it is not all work and certainly provides a sense of satisfaction for a job well done.
There is still time to sign up as an individual, family or organization by calling 205-0287. You can select your own location or one will be assigned later. Come on out and help to Beautify Niagara on Saturday.
The next day is the Armenian Genocide Commemoration which begins at 10:30 a.m. at the Cenotaph Park on the corner of Pine and Main where Armenians and persons of all backgrounds are welcome to gather at their monument to place a wreath remembering the historical significance of the event. Following a Divine Liturgy service at St. Hagop Armenian Apostolic Church, 322 Ninth St. at 11 a.m., a luncheon reception will be held. The public is invited to attend these services.
During April of 2012, I wrote some history of the genocide and how it affected many of our local Armenian population. These accounts are on the Niagara Gazette website. Although time does not allow the commemoration to continue at the Oakwood Cemetery this year, we can still remember those “residents” of Armenian descent who were part of the genocide and their survivors who now sleep at Oakwood.
There is always something going on the NACC and April is no exception when the Niagara Arts & Cultural Center celebrates Native American Heritage. Something different can also be fun by joining the Hand Drum Workshop on April 20 and April 21 from noon to 5 p.m. The speaker, Earl Dunne will lecture on the processes of making a hand drum topped with deer hide. A $30 fee covers the instruction and materials. Class size is limited, so sign up early at 282-7530.
On April 26 the rocking chairs will be set up in the upper lobby of the Memorial Medical Center from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for the 12th annual Rock-a-thon sponsored by the auxiliary with the proceeds earmarked for new equipment and health care programs at the medical center.
This is a major fundraiser for the group and they expect some VIP rockers to be “rocking for a healthier Niagara. You can be one of them, or sponsor someone or just make a donation to a rocker.
Sign up to rock at 278-4159. Checks payable to NFMMC Auxiliary mailed to 621 10th St. 14302 will be greatly appreciated. Bonus to rockers — free parking and a 20 percent coupon for the gift shop.
For the kids, head to the Carrousel Factory Museum, 180 Thompson St. in North Tonawanda to celebrate the founder Allan Herschell’s 162nd birthday on April 27 from noon to 4 p.m. Cost is $6 adults, $3 children ages. More information at 693-1885.
There is plenty to do for everyone in our area so turn off the TV, Facebook and the like and head out.Norma Higgs serves with the Niagara Beautification Commission and Niagara Falls Block Club Council.