Monday, April 20, 2020

Cherry Blossom Festival to go online May 2

            The 2020 Buffalo Cherry Blossom Festival has been cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 
            The 7th annual event was set to take place from April 29- May 3 in the Japanese Garden in Delaware Park.
            The festival was set to kick-off with a kimono fashion show at the Buffalo History Museum on April 29 with a focus on Japanese culture.
            Lockhouse Distillery & Bar, 41 Columbia St., was set to hold the festival’s fundraiser on  April 30.  The fundraiser was set to include an open bar featuring cherry blossom gin cocktails and food from local Japanese restaurants.
            Bites for Blossoms, a restaurant week dedicated to the festival, was set to have each restaurant incorporate a special dish that fits the theme of cherry blossoms. 
            The festival plans to organize a digital blooming so the public can experience the event. This online event is scheduled to start on May 2.
            Please stay tuned for information regarding Buffalo Cherry Blossoms Reimagined,” the event’s Facebook page says,  “which will feature an all virtual lineup of content that will allow the community to experience Buffalo’s blossoms and a pop of springtime from the safety of your home.” By Patrick Miklinski        

Colleges forced to cancel commencement

            Colleges on the West Side have cancelled and rescheduled their spring graduation ceremonies as a public safety precaution due to the coronavirus pandemic. 
SUNY Buffalo State has cancelled its May 15 graduation and yet has not made further arrangements.
However,  Canisius, D’Youville, and Medaille colleges are finding alternative dates
and ways to hold their traditional ceremonies to celebrate the graduating seniors.
Canisius will hold its ceremony on Oct. 10 and D’Youville will hold a virtual celebration on May 17 and traditional ceremony on Sept. 25. Medaille will hold its ceremony on Nov. 30.

  I have decided that we must reschedule our spring 2020 Commencement ceremonies to a date and format yet to be determined,” SUNY Buffalo State’s President Katherine Conway-Turner said in a letter sent out to students.
Although they are left without a ceremony, seniors have been given confirmation that they will be graduating and still receiving their diplomas.
“If you are on track to complete your degree this spring, you will graduate and go on to do amazing things in this world,” President Conway-Turner said.
As the standard procedure, students will receive their diplomas via mail once all degree requirements are met.  
By Zachary Jones and Emily Miller

Monday, April 13, 2020

Precaution is the new shopping style trend

By Zachary Jones and Emily Miller
As you walk through the aisles of a grocery store, nothing seems to be out of the ordinary. It has most of its usual products and employees that greet you as you come in. The only difference, they are wearing gloves and masks and keeping a safe social distance to ensure the health and safety of those around.  
The coronavirus has led many businesses to temporarily close or change their normal hours of business operation. Many have adjusted hours and implemented new safety precautions. Health safety has had a large impact on businesses and the public due to COVID-19.
 “If you are sick or are feeling sick we don’t want them to come in,” Vinnie Guercio, manager at Guercio & Sons Inc, 250 Grant St., said.

The risk of being infected by the virus has led many to wear gloves, masks, and practice social distancing. The practice of social distancing is when people maintain a physical distance from groups or individuals. The practice is used to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
 “We are all wearing masks and keeping our distance,” a manager at Cameron’s 24 hour store, 1054 Elmwood Ave., said.
In order to battle the concerns about spreading the virus, businesses are offering and encouraging home delivery.
 “We’ve always offered home delivery but now we are really advertising it and we also now offer it to both the north and south town,” Guercio said.
Even with health concerns, closings, and business changes, some businesses are continuing to push forward in these uncertain times. Businesses have noticed a new trend in their customers’ shopping.
 “People are buying more when they come in then they usually do,” Jim Lorigo, owner of Lorigo’s Meating Place, 185 Grant St., said.
 The trend of buying in bulk has had an influence on some businesses.
 “Wholesale business is down 90% but we've seen an increase in retail by about 50%,” Guercio said.
But the few businesses that are open at this time are seeing a difference in their community.
 “Around us, what we’ve noticed is it’s the small coffee shops that are really hurting,” Guercio said.
Local businesses, like Lorigo’s Meating Place, are facing difficulties in the uncertain future. With a number of businesses closing down, Lorigo’s has lost some of its meat shipping business.
 “A few of the places I ship meat too are closed down so that's been an issue,” Lorigo said.
While businesses are facing a number of difficulties, their employees continue to work with flexibility. With some employees being college students, businesses adjusted to losing workers as schools shut down.
Businesses are also faced with the comfort of their employees in the workplace. As employees, they encounter the public and can potentially be exposed to COVID-19.
 “In terms of workers coming in, I really work with them. But even if people are uncomfortable about coming in they just have to tell me and I’ll take them off the schedule. Even with that though all my workers have been coming in and doing their shifts,” Guercio said.
While the world further treads into uncertain waters, it is unknown when businesses will be able to return to normal. Even while facing difficulties, local businesses will continue to support and be supported by the community.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Chocolate shops make shift to online sales

            West Side chocolate and candy shops are taking a hit this year as their businesses shifted to online sales only in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
             Blue Table Chocolates, 44 Brayton St., ordered a 15 day full shut down beginning March 15 and offered online orders only after April 2.
            “Given that we originated as an online business, and are capable of staying viable through shipping alone, we are asking the local community to please not visit us until further notice,” the company announced.
           Fowler’s Chocolates closed its locations at 746 Elmwood Ave. and East Aurora, shifting to online, in-store pick-up in its stores in Hamburg, Cheektowaga and Tonawanda. Owner Ted Marks explained to customers in a letter on the company website that with production halted, Fowler’s is left with chocolate made only up until production was stopped on March 20, making the influx of orders very difficult.  
            “Our online sales exploded, we are experiencing online order volumes three to four times greater than any previous Easter,”  Marks wrote.
            Even with the influx of online orders, the future is very uncertain.
            “Online sales have exploded, but most likely, retail sales will go down,” Office Manager Diane Karosik siad.  “As far as the long-lasting effect, it’s anyone’s guess.” By Patrick Miklinski

Saturday, April 4, 2020

W.S. parks remain open with restrictions

         The West Side parks will continue to stay open during the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic. 
            This includes parks such as Delaware Park and LaSalle  parks.  The parks will remain open but significant changes have been made to the parks’ operations.
            All organized and large gatherings of sporting events will be closed and cancelled.  This includes basketball courts, all playgrounds and soccer fields.
            In addition, all scheduled events have also been postponed.  This includes the Arbor Day Volunteer Tree Work scheduled for April 20.
            According to the Olmsted Parks Conservancy website, all of the parks facilities and buildings will also be closed.  This includes all restrooms, rental spaces and concessions.
            “Feel free to visit our website that has all COVID-19 related information listed,” said Olmsted Parks Public Relations. and Events Coordinator Sarah Larkin.  By Patrick Miklinski