Without fail, every time I mention my annual pilgrimage to Buffalo, N.Y., it’s always met with a snarky comment about keeping warm. True, having lived in the Sunshine State since 1997 my blood has thinned to that of a Florida Cracker, but I can’t change the time of year when Christmas falls.
My reason for visiting Western New York in the heart of winter has little to do with snow, ice and below-freezing temperatures. It’s about family and hometown pride.
Bonding Over Buffalo
There’s an immediate shared bond beyond wings and beef on weck among those of us who grew up in Buffalo then moved away. Oh yes, sharing our favorite flavors of Buffalo plays a role in this bonding but it goes much deeper than blue cheese and Weber’s mustard. We meet as strangers and leave as friends after reminiscing about Commander Tom and Rocketship 7, Dyngus Day, and “dance club” runs to Fort Erie at the age of 19 while commiserating over the misconception of Buffalo’s weather. I suppose immediate bonds are formed because Buffalo is called the City of Good Neighbors.
Buffalo isn’t the Only City Where it Snows
Yes, it snows during the winter as it does in dozens of cities across the Northern and Western U.S., but the destination compensates with indoor and outdoor winter activities, perfect summer days, colorful autumns, a vibrant arts and culture scene, respectable professional and semi-pro sports teams and lots and lots of glorious food. Living in Florida for more than 15 years, I notice how young Buffalo’s residents seem and being around their energy is refreshing.
Buffalonians Love their Sports Teams
During my recent trip north, I felt that good ole’ Buffalo pride even more while attending a Sabres game. Apparently, the team hasn’t been doing that well – I was once a die-hard fan but these days I don’t follow hockey – yet the arena, the First Niagara Center, was sold out.
Comparing that to baseball here in Tampa Bay, I can count the number of times Tropicana Field has sold out when the Rays were in the playoffs. Buffalo fans don’t seem to be as fickle about their professional sports teams as other cities, at least they’re not to the point of not attending games because their team is on a losing streak.
It so happened the hockey game my family and a friend attended will probably be marked in the history books as an odd win for the Sabres. In overtime, the winning goal was scored by the opposing team’s goalie after the puck fell into his pants and he backed into the net. What are the chances of that happening again?
Related Post: Sal’s Lounge: Buffalo’s Secret for Chicken Wings
Flavors of Buffalo Beyond Wings
I love consuming Buffalo calories in the form of wings, beef on weck and Weber’s mustard. Mighty Taco for a Super Mighty Burrito, Ted’s for a charboiled hot dog and golden onion rings, and Wegman’s are typical must-stops when I visit. Sahlen’s hot dogs, Weber’s mustard, Chiavetta’s marinade, sponge candy and Buffalo-made hot sauce are frequently packed in my suitcase. Shopping at Wegman’s, an über grocery store chain, makes it easy to find Buffalo and New York-made products.
I also appreciate the handcrafted arts and crafts celebrating Buffalo. My collection includes a chicken wing ornament, wing key chain, and wing silver charm, Buffalo-shaped clay magnet and glass Buffalo ornament and a set of lovely Buffalo-shaped note cards printed on old maps of the city by The Secret Chicken.
I don’t claim to know everything there is to know about Buffalo and Western New York and I love discovering something new to me with each visit.
Buffalo, “We’re Talking Proud”
Growing up, I remember Buffalo’s “We’re Talking Proud” marketing campaign. I recall the commercials, print ads and die-cut signs sporting a dashing Buffalo and reading, “We’re Talking Proud.” Although just a kid, it made me excited to be part of something bigger and made me proud of my community. Thirty-some years later, I’m still talking proud of Buffalo not because of a marketing campaign but because the Queen City has so much to offer anyone willing to give it a chance.