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Do you love our parade?

May 12, 2014

If you love parades,  you may already have been present for one of the best, local and annual traditions.   And it is an event that you can walk to it if you live in any of the neighborhoods bordering on Highland Botanical Park. Parade of Lilac Queens 1930s That annual tradition is, of course, the Rochester Lilac Festival’s  Parade.

To the right is a post card memento from nearly eighty years ago.  It is a  fun and antique reminder that thousands of people have been gathering in Highland Park every spring to see a parade for generations.

However, I am not writing this entry to relate a definitive history of either the festival or the parade.  (Although I may get to that over time.)

I am actually writing  just to celebrate by way of  a record of my visit to this year’s parade. Like so many times before, the 2014 Lilac festival and the Lilac parade were welcomed in my neighborhood as heralds of spring and summer.  And I have confirmed by an informal poll of my fellow residents, that they look forward to the Lilac Festival and all its events as much as I do.  This year, because of the severity of the winter that ended mere weeks before the lilacs began to bloom, there may even have been extra cheering.

First up in the celebration is a video.  The movie is actually just a few minutes of music from several of the many bands that participated in the 2014 parade.  (Plus some special guests in special rather small vehicles.)

Next is my photo essay on the parade.   But this is just a selection of a much bigger set of floats, participants and music. By that I mean, the movie and the photo collection could each be two or three times this size and woud still quite interesting.

See for yourself next year!

In Tribute to Veterans Day: A Movie and Slideshow

December 2, 2013

On November 10, 2013, HPNA Horticulturist and Forestry Expert Amy Priestley led another one of her guided walks through Highland Park.  This one was different. This was truly poignant.  We visited the Greater Rochester Vietnam Veterans Memorial.  When Amy started reading from the dedication monument, I turned on the video.  This movie was, eventually, the result:

If you are able to select the highest definition version of  this film on youtube, I  think it will enhance the experience.   The emotions, the weather and the occasion combined into one of the lingering moments where pictures can say things even better than words….

An Album for Carol

November 17, 2013
Poster Advertising the Fundraiser for Carol Heveron at Abilene

Poster: Fundraiser for Carol

Carol Heveron is a neighborhood  artist, musician and gardener. All those things combine to give just a glimpse into the warmth of this woman whose has made many contributions to the work of the Highland Park Neighborhood Association.   One of the results of  our frequent contacts, has been that my wife and I became friends with Carol.   But perhaps the greatest understanding of Carol within the broader local community is within her music.   Yet, many of her music fans might not even know that Carol’s collage art was incorporated into a poster for an exhibit in 2013 that included more of  her beautifully expressive collage art.  Recently Carol has been visited by health problems, something from which she is determined to recover but her struggle as a person who cannot afford health insurance is making that difficult:

Carol with Portrait by Artist Larry Staiger at Show Featuring both of their work in Summer 2013

Carol with portrait by artist Larry Staiger at show featuring both of their art work in Summer 2013

“The day after Carol Heveron’s temporary job ended — she was filling in for a woman on maternity leave — she looked in the bathroom mirror. I hadn’t been feeling good for weeks, I can tell by things I was writing my journal,” she says. “I looked in the mirror and saw my eyes were yellow. I knew something was wrong, but I was afraid to go to the doctor because of the bills.”  A couple of weeks later, Heveron did go. A tumor was blocking her bile ducts. The yellow eyes were jaundice. The diagnosis: pancreatic cancer.

“It was like someone pulled the rug out from under me,” she says.

Heveron is a familiar voice in the local music community, not only for her own bands, such as Carol Heveron & the Impalas and The Carol Heveron Band, but as kind of a go-to vocalist for many musicians in the city. “Country, rock and roll, blues people,” she says. “’I’ve just played with so any people, it’s hard to count.”

Jeff Spevak , staff writer,  Democrat and Chronicle,  November 11, 2013

In honor of Carol, on this day which will feature a benefit concert on her behalf with many fellow musicians, we present this album of photos and posters taken and created during many of Carol’s activities on behalf of her neighborhood. All of us join in thanks that she lives among us as, perhaps, “The Coolest Woman in The Hood”.

Trick or Treaters – Counts Across Recent Years

November 2, 2013
Best Costume Award - 2013

Best Costume Award – At My House 2013

When we first moved onto our own home on Meigs street in late 1991, my wife and I were already somewhat familiar with how big a deal Halloween is in this section of the Highland Park Neighborhood (then still known as the Ellwanger & Barry Neighborhood.)  We had been living here  since 1986 on the ground floor of a nearby apartment building where we received a couple of dozen of treat & treaters every year.  But that first year at our house, I was unprepared for the number to quadruple.  My wife was working  later than expected that day and as my candy stock grew low I had nowhere to turn to resupply it.   In desperation, I made a small sign explaining my plight and asking any visitors  with extra candy (especially the stuff they did not want)  to consider leaving some for later trick-or-treaters.  Eventually I left the candy bowl outside with about 15 pieces of candy left in it and retired inside for the night.  When I awoke the next morning, I found that the bowl was much fuller than I left it.   Is that something that could only happen in this neighborhood? I don’t know, but I do know that if I tried it again now twenty years later, I’d expect the same results.

This year brought near records levels of trick or treaters to our house.  In fact we ran out quite late in the day.   (Maybe I should have tried the sign trick again?)  I knew it was near a record because we have been keeping count for quite a few years although unfortunately, we haven’t kept good records of our records. Currently I have, in fact, misplaced all results prior to 1999.   And we actually track by the 1/2 hour.   So perhaps some year I will include updated detail from other years and, perhaps graphs (!)

Little People Award - Halloween 2013 at my house

Little People Award – Halloween 2013 at my house

Halloween Trick or Treater counts – Meigs near Linden

    • 1999    153
    • 2000   156
    • 2001      60 (9/11 Aftermath)
    • 2005    209
    • 2006    227
    • 2007    312
    • 2008   245
    • 2009   245
    • 2010   186 (Rain – Becoming Cold Slush Later
    • 2011    nc  (Absent/Out of Town)
    • 2012    247
    • 2013    293 –  Ran out at 7:45 pm – at least 30-40 more were probable.
    • 2014    nc  (Absent/(Studio Event)
    • 2015    316 –  Ran out at 8:45 pm – estimate 20 more.

Little Libraries: Lots of Lovely Literacy

October 27, 2013
Little Library Theme

Little Library Theme
Handcrafted by Don Olney

Curator’s Note: The History of  Little Free Libraries is given at this website, These little structures are dedicated to allowing anyone to “Take a Book – Borrow a Book – Return a Book – Donate a Book” .  In the autumn of 2012, Highland Park Neighborhood Resident Rachel Larson brought the concept to our Arts & Cultural Team.  One thing lead to another, other volunteers joined with Rachel and then…well please see Rachel’s description and the slideshow below.

Little Free Library Opens on Rockingham

By Rachel Larson

What does Rochester have in common with Republic of Congo, Lakki Marwat, Pakistan, Bogota, Colombia or Nagasaki, Japan? We are all lucky to have Little Libraries!

This spring in the Highland Park Neighborhood, a group of like-minded neighbors decided to work together to enhance our community with Little Free Libraries. The idea is to share books with your neighbors, increase conversations and build community one book at a time. Little Libraries started in Wisconsin in 2009 and now have been built all over the world in the last five years. Currently, two are registered in Brighton and one on Azalea Road in the Strong neighborhood. The newest two are on Rockingham and Caroline Streets.

Neighbors and Master artisans, Peter Keenan and Chris Kase, built the bases of our new libraries. Don Olney sharing his amazing woodworking skills in decorating it. Other neighbors painted and put them up. It is truly a community effort!

Two new libraries are currently being constructed now, but the crew could always use more help making them. If you have woodcraft, painting skills or materials to donate, neighbors are working to put up one on Ashland Street in the South Wedge.

To find out more about the larger Little Library movement, visit website, To be a part of what is happening locally, email the Highland Park Neighborhood at

A Different Take on How Things Work in Rochester…

October 3, 2013
City's 2013 Volunteer Reception

City’s 2013 Volunteer Reception at RMSC

My wife and I were invited to the City’s annual Volunteer Reception on Monday, October 1, 2013 along with others  who have worked on various Neighborhood gardens. But this  was not an event featuring the local glitterati, instead it was a fairly low cost affair involving everyday folk where most of the time was spent watching the Deputy Mayor Leonard E. Redon and leaders from the  Department of Recreation and Youth Services (DRYS) honor virtually every one of the hundreds in attendance.  If that doesn’t sound exciting, it was (despite nearby displays in the Rochester Museum and Science Center) the amazing concept demonstrated that night.  One comes away from this event with a very positive take on our City and how it works together with its citizens – including many young people.  Certainly if more press and people were made truly aware of the vast scope of what volunteers mean to Rochester, it could be image shifting.   On Monday,  volunteers were present from the Edgerton Model Railroad Club, as well as Sports-Focused groups who support youth wrestling,  Little League baseball,  and Hockey.  Present were  Recreation and Community Center Volunteers,  Friends of the Public Market, Young adults from Americorps and Nazareth College’s Center for Service Learning, et cetera, et cetera…including other residents who volunteer just to pick up around the City.   Beyond the numbers, another takeaway was the grassroots aspects of many projects; quite a few people were honored for an idea that they first took to the City and then helped make happen.

And then there were the Gardeners!  Many, many from what appeared to be every nook and cross street in the City apparently all with little heralded but still magnificent volunteer gardens.  Present were representatives from Neighborhood sized projects, for example,  from  the Maplewood Gardening Team,  Charlotte,  Beechwood,  Upper Monroe’s Wide Water Gardens Maple Grove and, of course,  our own  Highland Park Neighborhood Association.

As impressive as all these well coordinated community efforts are, what was even more endearing to me were the many small projects tended by one or two people.  These include small plots,  residential front yards and planter gardens which, while not having a website, offer much to our quality of life.  These illustrate on a small scale the concepts of Placemaking that we find so interesting.   And all these gardening projects, whether in one planter or a pocket park, now remind me of  James’ Vick advice in 1882.    I am hoping that the City publishes a list of all the small, medium and large gardens that were honored as not only as  great advertising for our City, but also as I wish to take a tour of many of the special places that were described during the evening.

As noted at the event, the celebration was limited to those who were invited and choose to attend, but the number of  all who volunteer for this city is much more than just a few hundred.  I’d love to see a group photo from a larger event where every volunteer, from neighborhood associations,  library supporters,  parent groups associated with our schools,  Clean Sweep volunteers, PAC-TAC walkers and everyone  else including those invited on Monday.  Just the raw number in such a group portrait would make a statement about Rochester…one I don’t really recall being emphasized  as much as should be.

A Sampling of Neighborhood Gardens on Labor Day

September 10, 2013

On Labor Day 2013, I took a walk through the Highland Park Neighborhood with my wife.  All summer, I had been planning  to start a project that I’ve thought about for some time which is one that I have intended for this site.  I wanted to catch and record many of the personal gardens hosted  in so many of our resident’s yards and porches.   I had been regretting not having time and I had wanted to start at the peak of bloom and color.  But as the time of the walk was one of the last few weeks of summer,  I had assumed the peak had already passed.  Well maybe it had, but what I found was still, (especially for a fan of spontaneous resident driven “Placemaking”), was a series of special sights and treats.   There were gems on every big or little street that we walked on that day.  And I could have spent at least the rest of week finding and documenting other charming, arresting and attractive spots throughout my neighborhood and area.   So this album should be understood as just a random  first selection.   Over the few hours of this shoot,  I didn’t get to cover much of the Southern and Eastern sections of the Highland Park Neighborhood.  And during the days following this walk, sans camera, I kept encountering other gardens on the same or other streets that could easily be included here.  And perhaps they will, in the next chapter… 

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