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Seaway Trail Center to record stories of Blizzard of '77

Got a Blizzard of '77 story? The people running the Lake Erie Seaway Trail Center in the Town of Hamburg's Wanakah area want to hear it.

A Blizzard of '77 30th anniversary event, to be held from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday in the center, will include the opportunity to record memories of the blizzard that cemented Buffalo's reputation as a city of frozen tundra.

"That really was a defining moment for many people, and some would say resulted in a nationwide negative image for our community," said Hamburg Councilwoman Kathy Hochul, one of the event organizers. "I believe we should try to spin that image into a positive."

"We wear it proudly," she added. "Our strength and stamina. Our endurance."

The event also will include free snow cones, ice cream and "snowballs" (powdered doughnuts), as well as a "blizzard house" -- an indoor bounce house filled with white packing peanuts -- and family crafts.

In addition to a blizzard photo and video display, speakers at 1 and 2 p.m. will discuss the blizzard.

At 3 p.m., a speaker will describe "ice volcanos," which develop when waves and wind push water under lake ice. The water squirts up through cracks and freezes. After enough repetitions, little ice volcanos form on the surface.

William McKeever, a member of the Trail Center board as well as a board member for the Seaway Trail -- a separate organization -- said nature will determine whether any ice volcanos will be seen on Lake Erie during the program.

"It's the same thing as hot magma, except it's water," said McKeever. "If you don't go to the lakeshore in the dead of winter, you might not even know of them."

McKeever said the oral history idea was taken from the Library of Congress' and National Public Radio's StoryCorps collaboration.

"When we were putting this event together, we noticed the people who are involved, everyone would stop the meeting and regale us with some story," he said. "We just realized, everyone's got a story and they're all kind of interesting.

"So we're going to put out a couple of old-fashioned tape recorders and set up some stations, and then if anyone would like to sit down and spend five or 10 minutes and share their family's stories."

McKeever said the tapes would be made available to historical societies, library systems and anybody interested.

The event is free. The Lake Erie Seaway Trail Center is in the former Wanakah Water Works on Lake Shore Road near Lakewood Avenue. Parking is available across Lake Shore Road at the Frontier School District Educational Center. For information, call 649-6111, Ext. 2237.


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