Lucky to Live in the ROC (Part 2)

I’m back with another exciting installment of “Lucky to Live in the ROC,” an ongoing series in which I extoll the virtues of my hometown, Rochester, New York.

(Bonus tip: Scroll to the bottom to see the CUTEST PICTURE EVER TAKEN OF MY DAUGHTERS, and then return here to continue reading.)


When I first moved to Rochester as a child, I immediately noticed the abundance of trees.

Maybe my impression was colored by the fact that my former street was a busy four-lane highway, and my new address was on a quiet road covered by an arc of leafy elms. But to my twelve-year-old mind, Rochester was a green oasis compared to the drab Buffalo suburb I’d come from.

I soon discovered many lovely parks in and around Rochester that supported my first impression. And, of all the parks in the area, Highland Park turned out to be my favorite.

Highland Park was designed in the late 1800s by Frederick Law Olmsted (the designer of New York’s Central Park). Its 150 acres are located within the city limits. It’s an arboretum that showcases more than 1,200 lilac shrubs (over 500 varieties), as well as magnolias, rhododendron, azaleas, and many other beautiful plants, while maintaining a natural, flowing vibe. It also features an amphitheater, Highland Bowl, that is used for outdoor movies, theater productions, and music concerts.

Highland Park is a great place to visit in the spring, when many flowering plants are at their peak. For a guide to what’s blooming when, click here.

A Lilac Festival is held in Highland Park each May, with music, art, food, and – of course – lilacs.

Winter in Highland Park can be a good time for photos, too, until your fingers get numb from the cold.

Here are my top three memories from past visits to Highland Park:

#1: Attending a Sarah Vaughan concert in the 1980s at the Highland Bowl amphitheater. Fun fact: My daughter Erica (age 1 at the time) came along with me. About 30 years later, we learned that her husband, Richard, had been there, too. Coincidentally, they tied the knot at Warner Castle, located IN HIGHLAND PARK! Could their fate have been written in the stars that night?

#2: Seeing Herman’s Hermits there during the 1990s. Somewhere in my archives, I have a blurry snapshot of Peter Noone (taken by me) singing “I’m Henery the Eighth, I Am.”

#3: Taking my daughters there to see the flowers. One year, on Mother’s Day, a reporter noticed Katie and interviewed her. She was on the news that night!

Well, I guess you can see why Highland Park is special to me. I think I’ll go there today and take more photos.

Tip: Follow me so you won’t miss the next fascinating episode of “Lucky to Live in the ROC,” in which I’ll discuss the FOURTH-OLDEST ROLLER COASTER IN THE WORLD!

3 thoughts on “Lucky to Live in the ROC (Part 2)

  1. Yep, Navarre Road was a tunnel under the trees until Dutch Elm hit, IIRC. It looked buzz cut after the disease went through. I’ve not been up there in decades, so let me know what it looks like now, if you happen to pass by your dad and mom’s old place. I still have such fond memories of my time at Aunt Donna and Uncle Ralph’s place although I think you were at UB by then, so you missed some of the um…hijinx…that cousin Ralph, aka Scooter, and I carried out. (I hear he doesn’t go by Scooter any more?)

    Highland Park was/is beautiful. I recall the Lilac Festivals from my own Rochester years at the University and over in the 19th Ward for a year on Gillette Street. I think it was 1976-77 when together with U of R friend Mike Samuels and our wives, we rode our motorcycles to Palmyra for the annual Hill Cumorah Pagent. That is a great area, winters and all.

    Post more photos!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have wonderful memories of Highland park and the lilac festival too. It used to be just about the lilacs but I think it has become more of a carnival atmosphere now. Too bad.
    Do you remember the Highland Lilac perfume that was created ?
    By the way hi cousin Khal!! I remember your visits to Navarre Road well! It has tall trees again (not elms though) and looks almost the same, but not as beautiful as when it had the elm tunnel! We had so much fun growing up there!

    Liked by 1 person

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