by Chris Olsen
August 28, 2011
You Can Go Home Again
As it turns out,
And contrary to popular belief -
You can go home again.
I saw it firsthand when we returned
For Lucy's 100th Birthday Celebration.
I saw my hometown.
I felt my hometown.
There was an energy.
A sense of pride.
A sense of accomplishment.
A sense of community.
A sense of this is who we are. A sense of this is what we are. It was tangible.
It was exciting. It was wonderful.
It was well deserved.
It was there for all to see.
It was there for the world to see.
It was there amidst a tough economy.
It was there amidst the headlines of the day.
It was Judge Panebianco serving water on the Plaza.
It was Lou Deppas holding court backstage at Joan Rivers.
It was Journey Gunderson orchestrating a weekend of pure joy. It was Bill Stevenson coordinating a parade to rival any others.
It was the Story Pirates entertaining our town's next generation of leaders. It was a town bursting at the seams with pride.
It was the pride I felt as I walked from the Ice Rink to City Hall. The streets packed with people. I mean packed with people.
12 people deep in some spots.
Friends and family, strangers and non-strangers, in towners and out of towners - All one. One voice. One applause. One.
Felt like the All-American City Parade in '76. That I had watched with my father.
On the back of a car. Felt just like that.
It was the pride I felt as I watched my Mother - Janice (Swanson) Present - Miss Jamestown, retrace her steps from Lucy's visit in '56.
It's the Nelsons' beautiful '47 jet black convertible cruising through downtown in all its glory. With the picture of Desi and Mom on the side.
It's the Mayor handing Lucy and Desi the key to the City.
It's 1,000 Lucys proclaiming ''This is where I am from'' from the heart of city hall. It's Google, the national news and Twitter saying if you weren't in Jamestown, New York this weekend then you were missing one heck of a party.
It's the bedrock of the great things that don't change -
The people. The integrity. The sharpest humor I have seen anywhere. It's Scott Kindberg's column and The Post-Journal every morning.
It's the Bogdans, Bensons, Panebiancos. Zabrodskys, Petersons, Sorrianos, Harners, Nelsons, Deppases, Kennedys, Swansons,
Dimaios, Jarosynskis, Campaigns, Domenicis and so many others that say ''our town matters.'' It's my son Ted helping deliver papers at Chautauqua.
It's my girls riding bikes on the streets that I grew up on.
It's Idol on the Lake, and the Robert Jackson Museum.
It's the Italian Festival, Chautauqua Institution and Roger Tory Peterson. It's the quiet majesty of St. Luke's watching over her town.
It's the many great places that you can always count on - The Pub, Geer Dunn and so many other local businesses, that are so uniquely Jamestown.
It's the new places too - like Hometown Grill which was packed every night, And the perfect mix of the old and the new like La Scala and Roberto's.
All of 'em say ''Come on in. Welcome Home. Stay a while.''
It's a Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame that has never looked better.
It's a Hall of Fame that reopened after hours just to let me retrieve a forgotten wallet. It's 1,000 little moments that made me feel special.
That made me feel like I was home.
It's hundreds of people that worked tirelessly as one to make an historic event succeed. And seeing the smiles on their faces after witnessing what their hard work had achieved. It's a legacy of laughter that everyone could touch.
It's a legacy of laughter that everyone could feel. It's a legacy of laughter that makes Lucy smile. It's a confidence that comes only after a big win. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Thank you for all of it Jamestown. All-American City Forever.
Chris Olsen is a 1982 graduate of Jamestown High School. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and four children, where he works as an attorney and producer. His father, Ted Olsen (JHS '49), and stepfather, Bill Present (JHS '41), are members of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame, and his mother, Janice, was Miss Jamestown in 1956.
The additional financial assistance of the community is critical to the success of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame. We gratefully acknowledge these individuals and organizations for their generous support.