Tonawanda News

July 13, 2013

TUCKER: Mini-reunion tops Canal Fest

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Ready, Set Go!

Canal Fest is here and sometimes, brings out the best.

For instance, here’s what our Tonawandas are all about - helping each other. A press release from Grove Street Christian Church, 85 Grove St., Tonawanda, said its parking lot will be available for the public on July 16 for the Canal Fest Parade.

The church is on the parade route, so it’s necessary to arrive by 5 p.m., before the street is closed, the email stated. The release went on to say the parking lot is in easy walking distance to Salem United Church of Christ (at Grove and Morgan streets) which is offering a supper of roast beef sandwiches and chowder before the 6 p.m. start of the parade.

Love it when Christians are really Christians.


What a surprise greeted me Friday morning when Phyllis Forton and her daughters Ellen and Ann stopped by. Phyllis and I are cousins, grew up together and shared lots of fun and memories. She and Ann were in town from Florida visiting Ellen and decided to stop by for a visit. Our laughter filled the room as we reconnected after so many years neither of us could actually remember. We recalled Aunt Jo, our great aunt, and of course grandpa, her brother-in-law, our fun-loving and sometimes a little wacky aunts and uncles as well as all our children, grandchildren and myriads of cousins who live mostly in North Tonawanda. It was a mini-reunion of sorts and hopefully will be repeated in the fall when her sister Eileen, known in the family as Tiny, is considering a visit from Arizona.


Twin City Community Outreach sent a thank you note for mentioning the need for a college art student to paint the building.

In his email, Greg Lureman, president of TCCO, said they were able to connect with Taylor Glass, a North Tonawanda High School graduate now studying art at NCCC.

“I looked at her art portfolio and she’s fantastic,” Greg said. “On top of that, she is ‘all about’ community service and helping the less fortunate. Both she and TCCO feel fortunate to work together on this project.”

While on the subject of TCCO, Greg also noted that the organization would like to partner with some NTHS students who might be interested in volunteering at its Canal Fest concession booth next week.

“Students can collect required community service hours toward graduation while helping our non-profit organization and have fun at the same time.”

So how about it? Call TCCO or stop by the booth at the Fest and volunteer. Greg’s will make this a great summer experience — who knows who you might meet?


Bob Derner, our organ pizza guru, sent in another story about the original Organ Stop Pizza restaurant in Phoenix, Ariz. which opened in 1972 with a Wurlitzer pipe organ which was originally built for Grauman’s Hollywood Egyptian Theater.

This unique concept of a pizza parlor with a pipe organ was envisioned by William P. Brown, a Phoenix real estate developer whose enthusiasm for the theater pipe organ and its music led to the creation of this landmark attraction.

He opened another establishment in Mesa, Ariz. with a Wurlitzer organ from the Denver Theater in Denver, Colo. In the theater, the Denver instrument had 15 ranks, or sets of pipes. The instrument was totally rebuilt, and the decision was made to enlarge the organ to 23 ranks for its debut in the new Mesa Organ Stop.

The Mesa Organ Stop was sold and under the new ownership, improvement of the pipe organ became a high priority. Over the course of the ensuing years, careful acquisition of rare pipework and percussions were made, culminating in what is now the largest Wurlitzer pipe organ in the world. Inevitably plans were made to move into a facility twice the size of the original in order to accommodate the ever increasing number of patrons and ever-expanding organ.

Organ Stop Pizza and its Mighty Wurlitzer have come to be known as the biggest and best in the world as attested to by many of the world’s finest theater organists and, more importantly, the hundreds of thousands of patrons who visit each year.

Thanks, Bob. Riviera and Wurlitzer folks will be happy to hear this success story.


A few days ago, an editorial in the News by Esther Cepeda was right on the money as she described her yearning for a return to plain, traditional renditions of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

“It may be a small thing,” she said, “but it rankles me every time I hear a souped-up version of the national anthem. ... Essentially, I’m pining for return to a standard, bare-bones, 3/4 time, one-and-a-half octave rendition devoid of odd syncopations, extra grace notes, dizzying arpeggios or nearly endless fermata holds. Oh, and no ear-spitting headache-inducing high notes”

Well said, Esther. Let’s get back to basics.


Now get set for another Canal Fest and don’t worry, nothing’s changed from the past who knows how many years.

Beer, anyone?

Contact community editor Barbara Tucker at 693-1000, ext. 4110 or email