They can take the chili cook-off out of Hanover Square, but they can’t move Martinfest out of the parking lot across the street.
That special gathering of friends put on by the Martin family, naturally, went on last weekend, thankfully, even though a bother about permits and such according to a story on Syracuse.com moved organizers to cancel the stalwarts of Syracuse Winterfest, the chili and chowder cook-offs, from their 30-year home in the city square across the road.
We still had plenty of food. Tables full, provided by the Martins and brought by all the guests. We contributed two large garlic pizzas purchased from the Pies Guys on James Street, for example. I ate a tasty slice of that, and a hot dog cooked on the grill and served up by Scott Martin.
The past several years, we’ve braved way sub-zero temperatures to eat, drink and be merry with our good friends and their good friends and other people walking now past brave enough in mid-February in Syracuse, N.Y., to stop and say hello.
By early afternoon, Saturday, though, the big tower down Warren Street told my dear wife Karen and I that it was in the mid-50s. Good thing. I had left my winter jacket back home in the Little Bitty in the Syracuse city neighborhood of Eastwood, going for the layers of my blue 2014 Martinfest T-shirt to start, my New York Islanders long-sleeve T over that, my Syracuse Orange hoodie third, and this year’s Orange Martinfest T on top.
Karen, too, went with the layers. She was thrilled to see friend and former SMG co-worker Kristy, who’d driven up from Baltimore for the party (and to visit her parents 90 minutes south in Binghamton).
We walked over to Clinton Square a block over with our great friends the Bowers sisters, hoping to see big ice sculptures avoiding a bigger melt.
Instead we found a little L-O-V-E and a few diehards skating through the puddles on the outdoor rink.
Soon after, we ducked inside a bar to catch the end of the Syracuse game from the Carrier Dome. Pittsburgh won. We shared a couple of plates of chicken wings and a Canadian favorite, poutine, before heading back out to the still-partying Martinfest.
Oh, yeah. They did it Sunday, too, without us.
What’s your favorite outdoor party, and why? What would you bring to Martinfest? How would you dress for this party?