Hooray for the Canal Shark!
No, it’s not the long-rumored beast patrolling the waters of the Erie Canal in Lockport.
It’s a local resident and business owner in a shark suit who decided that the city could use a little, um, biting enthusiasm.
Capelli Salon owner Kitty Benedict Fogle has started donning the Canal Shark costume and can now be seen occasionally strolling through downtown, stopping along the way to chat with other business owners, residents and, of course, visitors to the city.
To date, the city’s new Land Shark mascot has been sighted at Veteran’s Memorial Park, outside Big Willie’s Has Style and near Fogle’s own salon.
Benedict-Fogle got the idea from reading social media posts about supposed “sightings” in the canal of the infamous Lockport Land Shark.
She’s hoping her costumed version of what amounts to Lockport’s own Lock Ness Monster will generate more social media interest in the Lock City and, in turn, drive more real life interest in local businesses, shops, restaurants and attractions.
“I think this could be a hashtag destination for Lockport,” she said.
Benedict-Fogle pointed to the popularity of the Shark Girl statue, which has generated a lot of interest and become a centerpiece for plenty of family photos as it steadily grew into a fixture at Canalside in Buffalo.
“We could have a canal shark destination like Shark Girl in Buffalo. Why not?” she said.
Why not indeed?
Lockport has so much to offer, starting with the historic and culturally significant canal itself. Dozens of small businesses here, like Benedict-Fogle’s own salon, offer quality services and products, often the unique kind that can’t be found anywhere else.
In order for those businesses to be successful, people need to know about them and frequent them.
The success of the private sector in turn supports the local tax base and services offered by local government.
A Canal Shark alone cannot cure all that ails any community, but if it leads to even a few people finding their way to Lockport who may not have otherwise done so, then it can be considered a success.
The power of social media can do wonders for any organization or community, so having a few photos of a Land Shark mascot that get shared dozens, hundreds or maybe even thousands of times certainly can’t hurt.
Maybe the Canal Shark movement ends up accomplishing something on a smaller scale, simply by bringing a smile to people’s faces as they enjoy an afternoon stroll along the canal towpath or a cup of coffee at a local shop.
Whatever happens with it from here on it, we welcome Lockport’s new Canal Shark and credit Benedict-Fogle for putting her best fin forward.
A little enthusiasm that might lead to a greater sense of pride in Lockport never hurts.