It’s easy to get stuck in a comfortable, insulated world of close friends, family and coworkers and forget that we are part of a very diverse community. I was reminded of this when the Rochester Puerto Rican Festival and St. Stanislaus Polish Arts Festival fell on the same weekend in early August. I photographed both events, and in one afternoon went from hearing salsa music and smelling fried plantains to hearing polka music and smelling sauerkraut.
Sometimes I think those of us who live in and around Rochester take for granted the fact that we are in a metropolitan area that retains a small-town feel. We have quick, easy access to cultural events (the two I mentioned being just the tip of the iceberg), museums, fine dining, theaters, shopping — while at the same time being only minutes from beautiful lakes and beaches, rolling hills and country roads. All these local treasures are a point of pride, but the real pride rises from our diverse populace. Whether they hail from Puerto Rico or Poland, the United States or abroad, what makes our community and our events memorable are the familiar, welcoming faces we see year after year. For me, the common thread that connects each celebration is that I’m always greeted with a smile.
So next time you’re partaking in our city’s diverse fare, raise a glass to Rochester — na zdrowie, salud and cheers!