Do you know who doesn’t appreciate the 4th of July fireworks? Your dog
Happy Independence Day, America. The people of Erie will celebrate the 4th of July at picnics and parties, and there will also be services to honor those who have sacrificed everything for this country.
The fireworks, so accessible these days, will be seen and heard until the wee hours of the morning, which will not please the ears of local dogs. I expect to have a 65 pound golden retriever in my lap for most of the day.
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● Several readers wrote to describe their meetings with actor Jeremy Renner, who was twice nominated for an Oscar. Renner was in town last week filming parts of his “Mayor of Kingstown” series on the east Erie waterfront near Marina Lampe.
Renner was spotted at Oliver’s Beer Garden, where he graciously met fans who politely approached him.
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● Mercyhurst Preparatory School graduate Alex Poloskey, who now works as a waiter at an upscale Nashville restaurant, also recently had a celebrity brush-up. Assigned to serve on a table, he was surprised when the couple sitting there turned out to be Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson.
Poloskey was even more surprised when another couple, Nicole Kidman and her husband, Keith Urban, joined them.
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● Bishop Tom McSweeney recently hosted old friends Michael Badalucco and his wife, Brenda, for a week in Erie. Badalucco won an Emmy Award for his performance in ‘The Practice’ and also appeared in films such as ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou’.
He said that when he played an elevator operator in “You’ve Got Mail,” the role called for him to show emotion when thinking about his girlfriend. “To get in the mood, I thought of Brenda,” he said.
McSweeney took the Badaluccos on a grand tour of Erie, which included sailing and other events.
● The hundreds of students taught at Gannon University over the years by Reverend Robert Susa were saddened when he passed away on June 25 at age 87. Susa was known as an excellent economics teacher who made a normally dry subject very interesting. He held several leadership positions at the college for decades.
● On a brief trip to the Midwest, it was fun to see two Childe Hassam paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago. Hassam, of course, is the artist who painted “Summer Afternoon, Isle of Shoals”, which is on display at the Blasco Library.
The Chicago Museum is currently presenting an excellent exhibition of works by Paul Cézanne. Coupled with dozens of Impressionist paintings, the museum’s collection ranks among the best in the world.
● I hadn’t visited South Bend, Indiana extensively in three or four years and was impressed with the new neighborhood developments there. The beautiful Howard Park, located in what used to be a rather sketchy neighborhood on St. Louis Boulevard, offers state-of-the-art facilities for walking, climbing, eating, and congregating indoors. A yoga class was in progress when we arrived and live music started as we left.
Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg spearheaded the creation of the park, located on the St. Joe’s River. He transformed the neighborhood.
In nearby Mishawaka, the Robert Beutter Riverfront Park is also a gem. Clearly, the leaders of this region take full advantage of their waterfront, which does not compare in beauty or expanse to Erie Bay. But South Bend and Mishawaka are way ahead of us in taking advantage of the riverfront and improving previously neglected neighborhoods.
● Billy Joel was in top form at his June 25 concert at Notre Dame Stadium, but I thought his guitarist, Mike DelGuidice, stole the show singing “Nessum Dorma,” made famous by the late Luciano Pavarotti.
DelGuidice, who has been playing in Joel’s band since 2013, once fronted a Billy Joel tribute band. They say he is a brilliant musician and can really sing. Joel himself hired DelGuidice on the spot after hearing the tribute band.
● Eddie Abramoski, longtime Buffalo Bills coach, who died June 25 at age 88, never forgot his Erie roots. He had been an excellent athlete here who then played briefly for the Detroit Lions. An injury ended his career, but he switched gears and became a coach. It was the time when a trainer did everything from taping ankles and tending to injuries, to driving the bus and mowing the lawn.
Abramoski was a one-man show for decades in Buffalo, where he became a beloved figure. Eddie always made time for old friends from Erie when they visited him in Buffalo.
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● Speaking of great sports personalities who fondly remember their hometowns, Arizona Cardinals star James Conner will host a football camp on July 9 at McDowell’s Gus Anderson Field. Children aged 7 to 17 are welcome to attend. Conner, who played at McDowell, Pitt and for the Pittsburgh Steelers before joining the Cardinals in 2021, has a great way with the kids. The camp promises to be one of the best.
Kevin Cuneo can be contacted at [email protected]