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Local folks join 'come home' plea Mom hopes event lures daughter back to WNY

This wasn't an event designed to woo Alvera Robinson.

Robinson, a lifelong Buffalo resident, has never considered living anywhere else.

But here she was at the kick-off celebration for Buffalo Old Home Week, aimed at luring expatriates back to the city.

She came to the fair in the Central Terminal to watch the Irish and Polish dancers and to see the posters about Buffalo's history. But she also had an ulterior motive -- one of her daughters was visiting from Arizona, and she was trying to convince her to move home for good.

"We're trying to talk her into coming back," Robinson said.

About 500 people stopped by Tapestry Buffalo, an event celebrating the city's cultural past and present. Members of ethnic and nonprofit organizations staffed tables alongside proponents of architectural preservation and city historians.

The event opened a weeklong campaign to convince former residents that the city offers jobs, homes and opportunities. But many who stopped by Sunday were current residents excited or curious about Old Home Week's mission.

The mix of city regulars and repats was perfect, said Marti Gorman, event co-founder.

"You wouldn't have a party and not invite everyone," she said. "People who live here are our [Buffalo's] biggest promoters."

Even the event's location was chosen to send a message about the city, said Christopher Smith, co-organizer and blogger. The once grand Central Terminal has fallen into disrepair since it was last used in 1980, but a group of dedicated preservationists is trying to revive it.

"We want people [to move to Buffalo] who want to take on a project like this," he said.

Some said they wished for a better turnout.

"I thought it would be busier," said Arvella Pugh, co-owner of the Steel Drum, a West Indies restaurant on Main Street that provided refreshments to visitors.

But Lesley Horowitz, a former resident, said the week may convince her to return. Horowitz left Buffalo in the 1980s with $20 in her pocket. She moved to New York City, where she and her husband started a Web design firm.

But lately, she has been thinking about coming back.

"I never thought there was any hope for the city," she said. "But now I think there's the opportunity for a lot of synergy between our business and businesses here."

e-mail: aerickson@buffnews.com

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