On a warm and sunny Saturday, with temperatures at pleasant 60-plus degrees, people didn’t need a reason to celebrate. But Boom Days activities at Silo City lured in hundreds of people of all ages to the waterfront.
Boom Days events in both Buffalo and Niagara Falls are meant to celebrate the much-anticipated removal of the Lake Erie ice boom. which prevents ice from flowing down the Niagara River and choking the intakes of the Niagara Power Project. Alas, the boom remains in place, with ice still plentiful on the eastern end of Lake Erie and cooler temperatures in the forecast.
But on Saturday, the sun was shining and the party went on.
At Silo City, people toured the Silos, took pictures, drank beer and enjoyed food truck favorites. There were also horse-and-buggy rides and the official dropping of the red “boom ball” into the Buffalo River to welcome spring.
On hand was Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown who called Saturday’s turnout “tremendous” and praised Silo City owner Rick Smith for doing a great job of promoting the site.
“This is a citizen-driven transformation of this area of the city,” the mayor said.
Bethany Garbutt of Buffalo – accompanied by husband Shawn, son Aiden, 6, and daughter Charlotte, 8 – was snapping photos as she walked through the maze of silo tunnels.
“I like taking photos as much as I can,” Garbutt said. “What a great experience to be part of these amazing buildings. My husband and I always say Buffalo always seems to be known for snow and there’s so much more.”
Peter Janic and Dave Smith, both from Hamilton, Ont., said they saw the PBS documentary about the nearby First Ward and stumbled onto the celebration while visiting the neighborhood.
“There’s so much potential here,” Janic said.
Smith and architect Clint Brown launched Boom Days in 2002 to celebrate the area’s waterfront heritage. Smith strolled the grounds wearing two hats – his trademark cowboy hat and a top hat over it.
“We wanted to celebrate the days gone by of the bustling waterfront,” Smith aid.
In Niagara Falls there was a more historic tone, with a flotilla ride up the icy river from the city docks in Griffon Park to the Youngstown Yacht Club, complete with re-enactors and a musket-fire welcome at Old Fort Niagara.
“The name [Boom Days] was supposed to be a double entendre – Boom Days, like lifting the boom – but we were also trying to be optimistic about the economic future,” Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster said.
However, the weather outlook for the new week is less than optimistic.
“There’s still some thick ice in the harbor on the far northeastern Canadian shore and also a very large area of slush ice,” said Jim Mitchell, a meteoroligist with the National Weather Service in Buffalo. “There’s going to be a cold front going through on Monday night and it’s going to be the leading edge of significant change. We are going to go back to a below-average pattern for quite awhile.”