This morning I awoke to the most pleasant email that I have received in a long time. The email was from Anne L., who sent this along:
“My 10 year old’s dream is to live in Buffalo. We wake up every day and look at the city.”
Along with the note, Anne send me a video of her daughter Ariella skating on an ice covered lawn in Fort Erie, with the skyline of Buffalo in the background. “Here is my 10 year old with her ‘Million Dreams’,” wrote Anne. “The water came up over the sea wall and made a natural rink. I am American and my husband is Canadian. She is American and just got her US passport and can’t wait to use it! Imagine being American and looking at your favorite city from another country? As an American my daughter’s dream is to skate for Buffalo some day!”
^Ariella spotted the frozen lawn and asked her mother if she could get out of the car and skate. She ended up skating for four hours. All the while she got honks from passing cars. Passersby even stopped to take photos and video of the young skater.
Now, I’ve been writing about Buffalo happenings for 20 years, and in that time period of time there have been just a few stories that actually got me a little teary eyed, and this was one of them. I sent an email back to Anne, asking if I could interview Ariella. Within seconds, Anne said, “Yes! She’s a bit nervous and tongue-tied, but she’s bounding around the house, jumping up and down.”
Moments later, Ariella was calling me. I picked up the phone, we exchanged brief hellos, and then got underway with the interview. I asked Ariella where she lived, and she told me Fort Erie. But she was born in Hamilton. She has been skating for three years, in Niagara Falls, Hamilton, Lockport, and Jamestown. When I asked her what she loves most about Buffalo, she said, “The Sabres!”
Although Ariella is a figure skater, she’s super passionate about Buffalo’s professional ice hockey team. It was then that I asked her if she also played hockey. She said no, that she someday wanted to skate for Buffalo’s figure skating team. I then asked her if she had ever attended a Sabres game, and the meekest little “no” came through the phone. “How would you like to go to a game, with your mom?” I asked her. At that point, I think we became best friends. She couldn’t even believe that she might actually get to see the Sabres play. “Do you have anyone else in your family that might want to go?” She told me that her mom and her 15 year old sister, Danielle, were also Sabres fans, but that her brother and her father were Habs (Montreal fans).
Suddenly the interview went from a wonderful conversation to an action plan. “Ok, I’m going to score you three tickets to a Sabres game,” I told Ariella, who was, by this time, jumping through the roof (according to Anne). “What else do you like about Buffalo,” I inquired. “Chicken wings!” she cried out. “What else?!” “Canalside!” she said. “How do you know Canalside?” I asked. “We saw people skating there when I went to go see Disney on Ice,” she told me. “But I didn’t have my skates with me so I didn’t get to skate.”
It seems that Ariella’s life revolves around skating, which means that Buffalo has got her covered. From the Buffalo Beauts (women’s professional hockey team), to Canalside and HarborCenter, Rotary Rink, the MLK skating basin, and Buffalo RiverWorks, skating has become quite a big deal in this city. And judging by her skating prowess at the head of the Niagara River, and her genuine love of Buffalo, I could think of no other person that I would like to proclaim an honorary Buffalonian.
That said, I’m looking for a little help from other Buffalonians who can provide me with a few of the key ingredients to make Ariella’s pending visit to Buffalo a day to remember. First off, does anyone have three spare tickets that they would like to donate? Second, I’m thinking that a meal at 716 at Harborcenter might be a lot of fun? Are any of the Pegulas reading this? Third, it would be great if we could get some donations of Buffalo swag? And finally, a dream trip to Buffalo for Ariella wouldn’t be complete without a skate at The Ice @ Canalside.
Can you think of anything else that would make for a great Buffalo memory? If anyone can help fulfill any of these wishes, for a 10 year old diehard Buffalo fan, Buffalo Rising will orchestrate the trip, and follow up with another interview to discuss all of the exciting happenings that take place.
If you have any fun ideas, or contributions (especially three Sabres tickets), please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.