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ON THE SCENE: New Year’s hopes for 2021

Renee and daughter Isabella Nichols of Delmar at The Bookstore Plus (Provided photo — Naj Wikoff)

Traditionally at this time of year, aside from recovering from being up nearly all night partying and watching college football the next day, people often make new year’s resolutions and articulate their hopes for the coming year.

As 2020 was especially brutal for society as a whole and the vast majority of individuals, I thought I’d check to see how people are feeling.

On Saturday afternoon, Jan. 2, I dropped my partner Renee off at the Adirondack Foot Sanctuary on Main Street in Lake Placid for a Lake Flower Aroma, a lower leg, foot and shoulder massage, one of her Christmas presents. Then I strolled up Main Street to take the emotional temperature of people I met.

My foray took place while dozens of politicians and political pundits lamented the 60-plus judicial rulings confirming that thousands of bi-party volunteers had carried off a largely error-free election. This hand-wringing took place against a backdrop of a post-Thanksgiving peak of COVID-19 hospitalizations and a frustratingly slow vaccine rollout. On the positive side, snow was falling. For Placidians at this time of year, there are few better balms for bartenders, hoteliers, shopkeepers and visitors; thus, I hoped for the best.

“Our town is blessed compared to a lot of other towns across the country,” said Mike Beglin, owner of Beglin’s Lake Placid Jewelry. “People are coming here for the fresh air, access to nature and our other amenities. There are not a lot of communities with such a diversity of walkable shopping and outdoor experiences. Typical small communities may have one place you can walk to, and that’s about it. I think we’ve benefited because of our location and diversity of offerings.”

Beglin also noted that people were not coming to attend an event, which he feels tends to suck up most of their time and interest. Beglin believes that instead, we’re attracting a broad array of people willing to try the variety of experiences we have available.

“Event-driven people tend to attend their event and then go,” said Beglin. “Vacationers are open to everything, stay longer and, hopefully, have a good experience and will come again. Another theory I have is that because Lake Placid is so unique when they can’t go to the Cape, Europe, out west, or on a cruise, they come to Lake Placid. We are reachable by car. Thus, I think we’re the last to see bad benefits. Don’t get me wrong; many businesses are hurting. Some have closed, but for all that, we’re weathering this crisis far better than many other communities. I hope that we have a good winter, and with the vaccine rollout, the health crisis begins to lessen.”

Sonam Zoksang, the owner of Vision of Tibet located in the Alpine Mall, believes that we are beginning to see positive changes and hopes to see significant progress by the end of June. He doesn’t have any New Year’s Resolutions as he’s learned that over the years that his track record of keeping them hasn’t been too good. Thus, he’s given up on making them. What he does believe in is being positive, hopeful and kind. He feels that pursuing this approach to life has always had the best results. He did say that thus far they’ve had a fair amount of traffic in their store over the Christmas and new year’s holidays.

Like Zoksang, Beth Rowland at The Bookstore Plus doesn’t make new year’s resolutions. She does have hopes.

“I hope that the new president (Biden) is successful, that we get this pandemic under control and that people stop being hurt so badly from either the economics of it or the illness itself,” said Rowland. “I think that the bookstore has done fairly well because people feel safe coming to Lake Placid. They feel safe because we have very rigorous protocols for keeping people safe while they’re here. While we’ve done well, it’s been devastating to many other businesses. There are businesses on the street closed today, not because anyone in the store had COVID, but because they were exposed; that’s devastating.”

Rowland said that she’s heard from customers, be they from Albany, Syracuse, New York or wherever, Lake Placid’s reputation for having strict protocols is why they feel safe coming here.

Delmar visitor Renee Nichols’ goal is to stay healthy and connect with family members in 2021. Her daughter Isabella’s dream is to stay focused and do well academically; she’s in high school, where she spends about half the time in class and the other in distance learning. Renee describes herself as a people person and hopes that people can work together to address the severe challenges we face. Isabella hopes life will become more normal.

Both mother and daughter’s big concern is for people in the arts, especially in the performing arts. They know they have taken a huge economic hit. They love going to concerts, dance performances, plays, visiting museums and participating in arts activities themselves. Isabella is a musician; while she is not thinking of a music career, she has classmates who are.

“I hope that all the people whose lives and dreams are in the arts can hang on and come through because their lives and work have been devastated,” said Renee Nichols. “They deserve a big boost. I hope that everyone will get behind them, even people who weren’t before. We love the arts. We know it’s been hard on them and all the people who benefit, be it the stagehands or the local restaurants. Attending a concert on Zoom isn’t the same, not even remotely the same. Arts people’s passions and pursuits have been just shut down. It’s sad. We have to rally behind them.”

Dylan Maney’s hope for 2021 is that people can start working together more, hear other people’s opinions, and work together to overcome the virus, kick it in the butt and move forward with life.

At Green Goddess on Main, Jessica Heroux hopes that we have the perseverance to overcome the challenges we’re facing. She understands that many people are having a hard time feeling hopeful, but she feels that are many positive steps are being made, such as the new vaccines. Like Maney, she feels we need to come together and collectively determine the next steps forward.

Back at the Adirondack Foot Sanctuary, owner Christina Frazer feels that her business is doing so well because she incorporates ritual as an essential part of helping her customers relax and set their cares aside.

“Now that our business is established,” Frazer said, “we’d love to buy some land, possibly build, and make Lake Placid our home, which is very exciting. We want to keep the good vibe going and spread kindness and world peace.”