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Sandy McPherson Carrubba: WNY has plenty to be proud of

Before the long-ago “Talking Proud” campaign to promote Western New York, I did my part as I wrote articles for out-of-state newspapers to encourage visitors to enjoy our attractions.

For our younger daughter’s 2004 wedding, I compiled a list of attractions for those who came from out-of-town. Now I aim my efforts at a younger audience, specifically my 4-year-old granddaughter. So far I have been successful. She didn’t want to leave when her one-week visit drew to a close.

Before she arrived, I had sent her clippings and photos from The Buffalo News about Luna, our polar bear cub. Soon I followed up with photos of Luna’s companion Kali. Of course we had to visit the zoo and see those little bears for ourselves.

Because she and her family live in San Diego and belong to its world-famous zoo, I worried that ours might be a letdown. On the contrary, they all enjoyed the visit immensely.

There are many activities for children of all ages to enjoy besides seeing the animals. Granddaughter loved digging for dinosaur bones as well as exploring the rainforest exhibit. She informed me when I showed her the bison that their real name is buffalo. Who knew?

On the day we trekked to Niagara Falls, the weather turned somewhat cool and cloudy. Granddaughter did not want to get wet, so we avoided both the Cave of the Winds and the Maid of the Mist, which we had planned on doing. But we walked around Luna Island, Terrapin Point and Three Sisters Islands.

Before climbing down to Luna Island, we had ice cream, making that day a success. Again my daughter liked what has been done to make the Niagara Falls experience better for visitors.

On the day we went to the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, Granddaughter remembered having been there the year before. Did I mention that she loves carousels and has ridden the two in her native city that were manufactured in North Tonawanda’s Herschell plant? She cannot seem to get enough of riding them.

Another place she found it difficult to leave was Explore & More, the children’s museum in East Aurora. She dressed as a construction person and “drilled” items. She “harvested crops” at the little farm display and dressed in costumes from other countries.

In between she “caught” wooden “fish” and played in the kitchen.

A week goes by far too quickly, so we didn’t get to do everything on my list, such as going to Canalside. Besides, we had to make a trip to the local ice cream parlor for a cold one.

I mentioned to someone nearby that during my family’s visit, we went to the Herschell Museum. She said she had never been there, although she has children. I know a number of people who have lived here all their lives and never been to Niagara Falls.

Western New York abounds with attractions and welcoming places to go. I am already working on the list for next year. We will begin with Canalside.

When I show off our local attractions and hear the exclamations of wonder and joy, I feel proud and happy. Our summers are lovely and can be filled with great places to see that are not far away for our own enjoyment and that of visitors.