There Is Value In Thinking Big

Last year, soon after the new hotel opened in Celoron, my wife and I joined some other couples in listening to one of the owners discuss the business plan for the facility. At the time, I wondered why there was such a big parking lot. It was much larger than the number of rooms in the hotel would require.

On Valentine’s Day week-end, I had my answer. We bought tickets to their “Fire and Ice” Celebration and the parking lot was jammed. It was hard to find an open parking space. In language from the 60’s: “the place was rocking!”

Though I had to walk a bit further than I expected to get to the front door, once inside, the place was alive with activity. It wasn’t so much the ice sculpture and multiple local food and drink vendors–it was the crowd that they had attracted. There had to be a thousand people in the place. And they were from all over, not just local folks.

It is amazing how stimulating a large, successful event can be. Having grown up around here, you get used to a couple of hundred people being a big crowd. Here was an event where 800 to 1,000 people bought a ticket and came for three nights running. I was not just impressed, I was proud of being a part of this community! I expect that everyone else from around here was feeling the same way.

The party lay-out helped prompt conversation. You stood at small tables and shared space as you munched on the food or sipped a drink. One couple standing with us had come from Watkins Glen. The same company owns a Harbor Hotel there. The one in Celoron is a close replica and the owner had told us that part of their success was attributed to being on the water and in sponsoring programs to bring people in.

The woman from Watkins Glen said: “It was like this when they started where we live. This party is like the first one we had–nobody could believe how many people came. Now, you have to get your tickets way in advance because they always sell out. We decided to come over to Jamestown to see how they were doing here, and it is impressive!”

Their description of Schuyler County, where they live, reminded me of where I live. They talked about it being an Upstate, relatively poor rural county where things usually happen on a slow and small scale, with the exception being the Indy motor speedway which brings people in during the summer. The hotel had changed that–now things were happening all year around.

Her husband said: “You know, for years, on business trips I have traveled down I-86 and every time I crossed the Chautauqua Lake bridge, I would say to myself: ‘Wow, this is beautiful! Sometime I would like to come and spend more time exploring the area.'”

Well, the “Fire and Ice” Festival, gave them a reason to come — and I would bet that they will be back again. The $30 million spent to build a new hotel in Celoron took some vision, but it looks like the business plan is working. If old man Broadhead, who built the original Celoron Park and trolley line up-the-lake, were still around — I think he would be tipping his hat to this new venture now located on the site of his former amusement park.

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.

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