Syracuse, N.Y. (Jan. 6) --Winter, the season best known for overhyped forecasts and underprepared drivers, received a VIP welcome in Syracuse today as Central New York proclaimed itself the official home of the misunderstood season.
"We have two seasons here, winter and not-winter," said David Holder, president of Visit Syracuse. "We're done hiding and we're done putting up with anti-winter media bias. Winter is a great season. It's part of who we are and we're celebrating it. We are proud to be ‘The Official Home of Winter.'"
Elected officials from the City of Syracuse, Onondaga County, The New York State Assembly and the State Senate joined a crowd of 100 business and tourism leaders welcoming Winter at a morning ceremony in the Oncenter Convention Center. The event reminded Central New Yorkers to take pride in winter, a season that carved the area's glacial scenery and shaped the hearty local character.
"From the earliest days of the Onondagas, we've learned to overcome the chill and embrace winter with humor, heart and extra socks," said New York State Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse), reading the formal New York State Senate resolution. "I do hereby proclaim Syracuse and Central New York as the Official Home of Winter and call upon citizens to rejoice in the recognition of winter as a great time to work, play and visit."
New York State Assemblyman Al Stirpe (D-Cicero), reinforced the message reading a coordinated proclamation from the New York State Assembly:
"For too many years we have succumbed to the tepid views of our soft and southerly neighbors who fear snow, eschew cold and generally think winter is icky," Stirpe said. "I charge Visit Syracuse to vigorously defend the title of Official Home of Winter against all pretenders, domestic and foreign, who impugn our title, dispute our claim and disparage our wonderful winter season."
The event was highlighted by the arrival of Winter himself who made a VIP appearance and announced the region as his new home.
"I travel a lot and when you find a place that fits, you know it," Winter said. "They embrace me here. They understand that I'm a season of friends and cheer and frosty goodness and warm fires. It's not like, OMG, Winter's coming! Empty the shelves, buy bread. Here it's cool. It's let's take a snow day!"
The welcome concluded with Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney bestowing Winter the official CNY Snow Shovel. Like ceremonial keys to the city, the shovel represents entrée to all the region's winter charms.
Though humorous in tone, the event underscored the importance of tourism to Central New York. Tourism is an $850 million business in Onondaga County and with regional winter sports, the success of the massive Destiny USA shopping mall and the ongoing rebirth of downtown Syracuse, the area can be a major winter tourism destination. By drawing attention to those facts, the "Official Home of Winter" designation presents the message to the public in a memorable, offbeat way.
"Ultimately this is about growing the economy," Holder said. "And doing it with a sense of humor."