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.)
Part 2: HIGHLAND PARK
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!