Apr. 10—There are many good reasons I'm so happy to be back at my job as a writer for this newspaper. For one, I can resume my summertime hobby of chasing tourists.
In the past dozen or so years, when I didn't have pressing stories to write, I'd go on a walk-about. Usually, I'd come upon groups of tourists taking photos and I'd typically ask if they'd like me to take a group photo. Most have been happy to have me do so. We'd start talking and I'd ask where they're from and why they're here. I particularly loved to inquire whether they were having a good time in our part of the world. They'd most always respond with an emphatic "Yes!"
I get energized by people who enjoy visiting here. I especially like wedding parties.
One summer, I saw a bride running joyfully through the Niagara Falls State Park, holding her dress up just enough to reveal sparkly white sneakers, with her wedding party racing to catch up. It looked like the opening scene of a delightfully romantic movie.
Those who live here sometimes forget that the brides and grooms who come to visit and tourists, in general, are almost always very happy to be here. They are mostly interested in finding fun things to do, having great meals, and making beautiful memories. They are often in a celebratory state of mind which is contagious to witness.
It's exactly that state of mind that I'm after.
I want to "gift Niagara" to several very dear, soon-to-be-married couples, in hopes of luring them to come to visit me for a few days from their out-of-town homes.
The idea came to me while I was vacuuming one day and contemplating the three weddings. What gifts could I give to these young people, that would be memorable and fun, something beyond money or a fancy ice bucket,?
I considered putting a little package together for each couple, with a night's stay in a local hotel or even a bed and breakfast. I could add a gift certificate to one of my many favorite restaurants.
Then I could add some smaller gifts, like a certificate for chocolate from Niagara's Honeymoon Sweets or from any of the area's bakeries or coffee shops.
Depending on how much money I have left, perhaps a gift certificate for Maid of the Mist or a ride up the Erie Canal with Lockport Locks & Erie Canal Cruises.
I could also consider a gift certificate to the Aquarium of Niagara or the amazing little Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center.
If I didn't spend too much on those I've already mentioned, maybe I could afford a gift certificate or two for a wine tasting at one of the many great vineyards on the Niagara Wine Trail?
Such gifts are going to take a lot of thought and leg work to assemble. I couldn't help but wish some local merchants and businesses could team up to offer such packages of varying prices, so people like me didn't have to go chasing around the region to create a spectacular present.
I know I would love to receive a gift like that. I can imagine how lovely it would be to have a vacation someone has already paid for, where I would have fun and fascinating things to do and delicious foods and wines to try?
I'm thinking the young people to whom I'm "gifting Niagara" couldn't help but have fun on the vacation I've planned for them in this interesting and often beautiful part of the world?
It's a win-win situation. The best win is I'll get to see my dear people from out-of-town. The other win is they'll bring their happiness and fresh eyes to the region.
That, dear readers, is a little gift to us all.
Michele DeLuca is a columnist and reporter for the Niagara Gazette and the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal.