Celebrating Life in Ithaca

Celebrating Life in Ithaca-image

Sarah Brown is a first-year CIPA student.  An organic farmer from Washington State, she spent last year in a small village in Hungary as a Fulbright Fellow, studying rural social innovation. She has come to CIPA hoping to build her tool-kit, which will allow her to be more effective in pushing a positive agenda for social change. Sarah has brought her two elementary-aged children with her to Ithaca and is single-parenting these two years while her husband stays behind to work in Washington. 

When I moved into our tidy rental in Fall Creek, our neighbors were quick to tell me about the numerous celebrations and festivals I’d be able to enjoy this fall. It started with the free music in the Commons every Wednesday evening, with food, beer, wine, and cider to boot! I attended several of these—walking lazily down to the Commons from my house on a warm summer’s eve, sometimes dancing for a while, or just getting some food, listening to the music and then wandering home via Cascadilla Creek.

Band playing music on a porchSeveral people warned me that Fall Creek’s Porchfest was busy with tons of bands, groups, and soloists playing impressive music on porches up and down the streets of Fall Creek. My neighbor plays in a band and nonchalantly mentioned that his band was planning to play for the event. I imagined a quiet, acoustic, possibly rock or indie music band on our shared porch and planned to enjoy it.  I first wandered through Fall Creek enjoying the various bands, getting food from the food trucks and topping it off with lemonade and popcorn being sold by children who were capitalizing on the thousands of Porchfest attendees walking past their home on what is a normally quiet street. When I returned home, I was thrilled to find—not a quiet indie ban—but a five-piece rock band!

Sarah Brown Neighborhood View

Somehow, the very next weekend was Applefest! My kids and I rode our bikes over to the Commons to listen to music, peruse the incredible craft fair, and eat some fried chicken and Indian food from the vendors. I can’t even tell you how many different varieties of apples I tried that day—certainly more than 20! My daughter got a perfect caramel apple, and I ended the day with an apple cider doughnut. Life felt pretty serene in Ithaca.

Until Wizarding Weekend followed by Halloween! We’ve lived on a farm for forever, and never, not once, had a trick-or-treater. Imagine my shock when our neighbors told us to expect ~1000 kids to knock on our door on Halloween! Lucky for me, my CIPA friends came to the rescue. I made some food and mulled wine and then headed out trick-or-treating with my kids (and thousands of other people), while my CIPA colleagues (representing five different countries) passed out candy while we were gone. I had never seen anything like Fall Creek at Halloween—there were costumed adults and kids everywhere. Periodically there was a parade of lighted bikes, with one looking like a jellyfish and another like an umbrella.  Don’t ask me why!

I think things are slowing down here, now that it is a bit colder out. We had our first snow of the year and I could hear kids playing in it all day long—that’s a celebration in and of itself. 

Next up? The 12th Annual Ithaca Ice Festival December 6 to 8, featuring ice carvings!


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