While the week after Christmas 2021 saw the worst Covid numbers in the county since January, the city fathers decided that it’s in Utica’s best interests for everyone to gather downtown for a celebration of the new year and witness the swearing into office of local politicians like Delvin Moody and Katie Aiello. See photo gallery here
The event began at 7:00pm and while certainly the organizers intended this to be a community building event with an overall positive atmosphere, it initially seemed eerie at best. The fog lingered over a barren Genesee street that would’ve been silent were it not for the fire sirens blaring in the distance. All of this combined with the glowing orange of the Savings Bank Dome to create an apocalyptic feeling, though this vibe would be short lived as more people flocked from all over the city to descend upon the street and then the air filled with merriment and hopefulness.
Uticans then got a chance to welcome back some incumbent politicians like Frank Dibrango, Delvin Moody, and Celeste Friend, as well as welcoming in new faces such as Katie Aiello and Maria Pezzolanella McNeil.
Mayor Robert Palmieri thanked everyone for coming out, acknowledging that everyone’s a bit fatigued from two years of Covid.
“As a city, as a state, as a country, we’re gonna win this.” His prediction of victory over a highly contagious airborne virus was followed by encouraging everyone to congregate and enjoy the entertainment.
The evening was meant to celebrate the city of Utica, so naturally, most of the talent came from Syracuse.
Grupo Pagan, a Latin music band out of Syracuse, kicked off the entertainment. They played an electrifying set full of Santana like songs with captivating rhythms. The band was followed by a group of Irish traditional step dancers. Their final dance was to the Dropkick Murphys song Shipping Up To Boston, and while it was an instrumental version you could still see everyone mouthing out the lyrics in perfect unison.
While Irish dancers pranced in front of Bank of Utica, Fire Dancers (also from Syracuse) twirled and ate flames in front of Griffins Irish Pub.
At the end, another phenomenal Syracusan band called Atlas sang in the new year before a massive crowd, and at long last the last ten seconds of the year ticked on the clock above the street. ten seconds of anxiety over the last year’s disappointments. Ten seconds of worry over the many new problems to be faced next year. Ten seconds of wondering if things will go back to normal, or if they even should. Ten seconds of hope that whatever may come in 2022, it will be overcome and perhaps be part of a year that gives us all a well deserved break.
Photo by Eamon Handzel