For those of us who photograph and write about news events, working outdoors in single digit temperatures is a less than inviting prospect. So it was at 8:30 Saturday morning as I pulled on lined weather pants over a pair of long thermals and a pair of sweat pants, then a thermal top, a turtle neck, a hooded sweatshirt, a fleece vest and a pea coat. I completed the ensemble by packing three weights of gloves, and two knit caps in my camera bag.
It seemed a bit incongruous to be dressing this warmly for Mayor Stephanie Miner's ceremonial inauguration in Clinton Square, since she certainly had the wherewithal to change the venue to someplace more comfortable and audience friendly.
But -- this is Syracuse -- this is January -- this is who we are (as she would later remind the 300-plus hardy souls in attendance), so I headed downtown with a plan. I would park at the Atrium entrance on Washington Street and hang around inside (assuming it was open) until the moment she arrived. Then, braving the cold, I would shoot some photos, take some notes, and flee.
It started out fine. There was a parking spot right where I hoped and the Atrium lobby was open. And then, unbelievably, things got better. Mayor Stephanie Miner, the 53rd mayor of Syracuse, earned my everlasting respect and gratitude by revealing her concern for the common man. Not only was the Atrium lobby open, (it was crowded with people -- supporters, city officials, entertainers for the event and media types) there were two tables of coffee, doughnuts and other edibles for the assembled masses. The availability of snacks is frequently a key factor in my approach to (and assessment of) an event; and this was definitely an unexpected bonus.
I ventured outside to check the layout and found a partially enclosed photographers platform raised above the crowd. Packets of hand-warmers were being distributed to the crowd -- energy expert Nick Togias provided me with a pair and Fire Chief Mark McLees came to my rescue and showed me how to make them work. In the space of 10 minutes, food, shelter, warmth -- three basic human needs -- satisfied.