Hey, Buffalonians. Once again, it’s time to puff out your chests, bask in the glory and perhaps hold up seven fingers.
We’re No. 7.
Buffalo ranks seventh out of the top 100 cities in the nation in – drum roll, please – 2016’s Best Cities for Easter Celebrations.
On further review, though, those who take their Easter celebrations really seriously might want to challenge the ranking, which takes no notice of some of Buffalo’s Easter gems, such as the Broadway Market and Dyngus Day.
“Why aren’t we No. 1?” asked Eddy Dobosiewicz, Dyngus Day Buffalo organizer. “The survey is flawed. I demand a recount.”
Actually, Buffalo ranked as high as it did in the WalletHub.com study largely because it tied for first in two of 13 specific subcategories: most candy stores and most chocolate shops, per capita.
Of course. Our collective sweet tooth is showing again.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Buffalo finished 95th in Easter weather forecast, leading to an obvious question: Who finished behind us? Minneapolis finished 96th, followed by Madison, Wis.; Milwaukee; St. Paul, Minn.; and Anchorage, Alaska.
At least we’ve got that going for us.
It’s tough to be picky when Buffalo reaches top-10 national status in any non-negative study, but how does the city finish ninth in “Easter Traditions,” behind the likes of Orlando, Fla., Scottsdale, Ariz., and Honolulu?
“We might be No. 7 overall, but I would venture to say that no one on the planet celebrates Easter, and the week leading up to Easter, like the people in Buffalo,” Dobosiewicz said.
Specifically, he referred to three local Easter traditions: the Broadway Market; the Blessing of the Baskets the day before Easter; and Dyngus Day, the Polish festival of polka bands, pierogi, vodka and pussy willows the day afterward.
The Broadway Market, according to Dobosiewicz, attracts more than a quarter of a million people during the Easter season.
“People come here in droves,” Bruce Woody said late Monday morning while manning the Old World Panoramic Sugar Eggs stand for his wife’s business inside the bustling market. “They’re not at Walmart or Aldi. They’re here looking for traditional things, they’re looking for something from their youth, from their past, and they’re looking to continue that tradition.”
Both Woody, working for his wife Karen’s business, Theresa’s Treasures, and Dobosiewicz mentioned just some of those traditional items, including butter lambs, ground horseradish, pysanka Ukrainian eggs, homemade pickle relish, fresh-baked goods and, of course, fresh pierogi.
A day earlier, a woman came through the Broadway Market and stopped at Woody’s sugar-egg stand to gaze at the items she hadn’t seen for more than half a century.
“She was sobbing,” he recalled. “She had forgotten about these eggs for 55 years. It took her back to her youth.”
The study by WalletHub, a personal-finance website that conducts other similar financial studies, ranked the 100 cities on 13 different per-capita metrics, including number of churches; percentage of Christian population; number of candy stores, chocolate shops and flower shops; number of Easter-egg events; percentage of children aged 8 and under; and weather.
Those subcategories then were compiled into four larger categories, with Buffalo’s rankings in parentheses: Easter observers (8); Easter traditions (9); kids’ Easter (41); and weather (95). The final rankings then were computed using weighted averages for the different metrics.
But it’s Buffalo’s No. 9 ranking in Easter traditions that may rankle some.
Dobosiewicz, standing inside the crowded Broadway Market six days before Easter, sounded confident that no one in the nation celebrates the foods associated with Easter the way Buffalo does. He and Woody both noted that the market lures shoppers from so many diverse ethnicities and religions.
How does Dobosiewicz explain it?
“There’s a nostalgic tug, a nostalgic yearning, that tugs away at people’s roots.”