Every year at this time Syracuse takes on a sullen shade of gray as people tire of the snow and cold. At last the snow has melted in most places and will soon be gone altogether. After that final melt, our city resembles one big exploding Hefty brand garbage bag.
It hasn’t always been this way. Back in High school when I was in the Le Moyne College’s Upward Bound Program, we’d stay on campus during the week and return home for the weekend. Every week we’d go on a trip. One week the Upward Bound program took us to Philadelphia for academic competition.
As we entered the city of Philadelphia we were a busload of kids, many of whom had never left Syracuse, our eyes were pasted to the windows as we saw up close the streets of “Philly.”
There was something that stood out, something that I couldn’t articulate that made this place different from Syracuse. It wasn’t the size of the place or the heat waves rising from the hot summer pavement.
Suddenly, from the back of the bus someone shouted, “This place needs a giant wash cloth.”
That was it! Wash cloth. The city was filthy.
We craned our necks as we were escorted to the confines of our local host college. Of course the college campus was pristine and well maintained. There were no tumbleweeds of trash making its way through the streets. But the most enduring image for me, and many of those on that trip, was the impression of the city being unkempt and filthy.
Within the next few weeks the nation’s sports fans eyes will be on Syracuse and the Carrier Dome, as we once again host a NCAA Regional Basketball match up. In short that means thousands of people will visit here, some for the first time.
What would people say as they enter our city of Syracuse?
Are we ready to receive guests? A Graffiti decorated wall greets you at the western entrance to the dome area, an unlit walk under a pigeon infested bridge, be careful if it rains your feet might get wet.
There’s also the building about to fall onto Route 81 that if we had another Labor Day storm we wouldn’t have to worry about demolition.
As our days grow longer and the sun begins to shine on our city, I’m reminded of the commercial for a popular brand of trash bags.
Liter, liter, liter….hefty, hefty, hefty. Let’s pick it up y’all.