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Century of picnics in B'ville

Seneca Street residents participate in 100th annual celebration

Laura Wade watches Frank Todzia eat pizza during the 100th annual Seneca Street picnic held Thursday July 26.

Laura Wade watches Frank Todzia eat pizza during the 100th annual Seneca Street picnic held Thursday July 26. Jason Murphy

— Seneca Street was bustling last Thursday during its residents’ annual picnic.

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Laura Wade watches Frank Todzia eat pizza during the 100th annual Seneca Street picnic held Thursday July 26.

The July 26 event marked the 100th anniversary of the first picnic, which was held Aug. 3, 1911. At that time, however, the picnic was held at Long Branch Park, which was a bustling tourist attraction with many rides as well as picnic areas. Referring to themselves as Senecas, the residents used the park as their picnic site for many years until it was eventually moved to the street.

A century later, organizers Maria Shockney and Scott Dorr helped plan the event, which drew more than 50 Senecas, both current and former residents of the street. Shockney and Dorr donned organizers’ hats on a whim during last year’s picnic.

“In a moment of pure insanity, we said, ‘We’ll do it! We’ll do it,’” Shockney said.

The picnic is invitation only for those who live or have lived on Seneca Street and extends to their family and friends. Shockney admitted, however, she wouldn’t know if a mole was present.

“We see our neighbors once a year,” she said. “If it was some stranger, I wouldn’t know the difference. But all are welcome.”

Not only did the picnic tote a nice spread of food, but an 11th hour phone call produced Donald Jetty and Ron Davis who brought a horse and buggy team to provide picnickers with rides.

“Jetty called me last night and asked if I’d take my team and buggy to this annual picnic, and here we are,” Davis said.

There was no keeping up with the Jones‘ at the picnic and all were in high spirits.

“Honestly the entire atmosphere is outstanding,” said former resident Frank Todzia.

With tables stretching three houses long, residents chowed down while the musical talents of East of Earth played in the background. There were also raffles held with prizes donated from local businesses including Tassones Wine Garden, B’ville Diner, Hudson & Mowins, Lock 24 Restaurant, Fireside Inn, Tops, Jreck Subs, Pizza Man, Hess, Pizza Hut and McDonalds.

Nancy Lynch, a long time resident of Seneca Street, said the event has become much friendlier over the years.

“[People] all start dancing in the street, singing, telling stories ─ everybody loosened up after a while,” she said.

Jason Murphy is a Baldwinsville resident and freelance writer for the Baldwinsville Messenger.

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