e: info@northsideup.org | ph: 315.470.1902

115 W Fayette Street Syracuse, NY 13202

What's Happening

Monthly Archives: December 2012

Happy Holidays!

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • December 23, 2012

This Holiday Season, Don’t Forget the Music!

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder2 Comments • December 21, 2012

There’s nothing like music to get you in the holiday spirit! In fact, music can enhance your mood, call forth memories, and bring families together. At the Cathedral Academy at Pompei (CAP), music is taken one step further: as a tool to enhance the potential of their students.

Through the beauty of music, CAP aims to cultivate the academic and spiritual environments of their young learners. The after-school music program is only half-way through its second year, but proves quite popular among students. The 40 participants in grades 2-6 are involved in the orchestra and have the option of playing the oboe, trumpet, French horn, viola, violin, or cello.

As composer Richard Nibly stated, “Music creates atmosphere. Atmosphere creates environment. Environment influences behavior.” An investment in music education translates as an investment in the future of a community, and here on the Northside, CAP’S music program is truly a gift.

While reveling in the holiday music this winter, we encourage you to think about its importance year-round. The after-school music program is supported by dedicated volunteers and funded exclusively through donations and grants. Depending on available funding, CAP hopes to further build the program by adding a new teacher, more students, and an extra day for rehearsal in the spring.  To donate to CAP and give the gift of music this holiday season, please send checks to the Cathedral Academy of Pompei Symphonic Music Program, Attention: Patricia Schmidt, 923 N. McBride St., Syracuse, NY 13208.





Time to Celebrate!

Written by admin  • December 20, 2012

Northside UP played a lead role in two successful Regional Economic Development Council applications awarded yesterday. One of our partners, Housing Visions, also received funding. This equals over three-quarters of a million dollars towards neighborhood revitalization efforts. We think that’s a cause to celebrate!

Read the syracuse.com article HERE.


The Feast of the Seven Fishes

Written by Joe Russo4 Comments • December 19, 2012

Editor’s Note:  Joe Russo is a “Nortsider”, a teacher, and an aspiring writer. We’ve asked him to share his stories of the past and offer his perspective on the present and future of our neighborhood. His posts will appear a couple of times each month under the category, “Old Times on the Northside”.


Christmas Eve has always been important. I was an Altar Boy at Our Lady of Pompeii. Father Charles Borgognoni made us practice for many hours to get ready for midnight mass.  I remember the Christmas colors, genuflecting on the sound of the clicker, the “O Bambino” song and the smell of incense. Father Charles had no patience for silly boyish behavior. Pompeii church would be full of parishioners, standing room only. The ceremony, a high mass with three priests and all the altar boys, had to be perfect.

For most Northside Italian families an additional layer of importance was added with the Feast of the Seven Fishes. My earliest recollections of the feast always go back to Grandma’s house. On my father’s side of the family, my Aunt Pauline did most of the cooking, while Grandma Russo, ever the great story teller, entertained everyone. On my mother’s side of the family Aunt Jenny, Aunt Antoinette and my mother, Sarah, all played the role of sous chef to Grandma Emmi. The challenge of the feast was to create seven interesting, tasty but different fish dishes all for one night.

As a youngster I remember the calamari most of all. It must have been the tentacles. Everyone had a different way of cooking the calamari. Some like their squid fried or stuffed. I remember the old timers making it with sauce and linguini. One time while sitting at the kids table at Grandma’s house I had the tentacles hanging out of my mouth. I was pretending to be a squid swimming under water. My father cuffed me on the back of the head and said, “Joey, don’t play with your food!”

Christmas Eve was a religious holyday and a day of fasting, no meat. Leave it to the Italians to turn a fast into a feast. My cousin Tony Cicci remembers his mom, Aunt Pauline, making spaghetti con tono(tuna) and pizza with anchovies. He and his wife Luann carry on the tradition in our nation’s capital with his friends and neighbors. Tony has added his own twist to the traditional menu. Smoked oyster dip, crab cakes and broiled scallops bring a multicultural flavor to cousin Tony’s Christmas Eve meal.  My Aunt Jenny Seib carried on the tradition for more than 40 years after my Grandmother passed away.  She added her own non-meat specialties such as roasted peppers. I will always remember what a joy it was to be at Aunt Jenny’s house for smiles, hugs, kisses and of course a great feast. As we all got older, married and found jobs in other parts of the country, it became more difficult to keep the Christmas Eve tradition. Some of my cousins like Tony carry on wherever they are.

My cousin, Rhea Wisniewski remembers, what may have been the best Christmas Eve tradition of all. Her father, Sam (Santo) Russo was a musician. A saxophone player and teacher, he learned his craft during the big band swing era.  Every Christmas Eve Uncle Sam and Aunt Judy had, in addition to the usual feast, a jam session at their home.  The most renowned local jazz musicians always spent Christmas Eve jamming at the Russo house.

So many friends and relatives have contributed to this memoir but in particular I must thank Michelle Loiacono Rourke. Michele sent me a link to the “O Bambino song” properly called “Tu Scenda Della Stella”. She also reminded me that the celebration didn’t end with the Midnight Mass but continued with more feasting, more smiles and more hugs. This tradition has changed with the times but shall live forever in our hearts.

NBP Member: Laci’s Tapas Bar

Written by admin  • December 17, 2012

Serving a variety of tapas or “small plates” is just one of the many great qualities of Laci’s Tapas Bar, a restaurant where delicious food, impeccable customer service and a tasteful atmosphere all come together. It’s pretty simple, if you love people and love food, the recipe works! With an extensive wine list, fun cocktails and a creative menu, this should be on everyone’s list of favorite restaurants in Syracuse.



Editors Note: Each Monday, we’re introducing a community spotlight piece highlighting one of our Northside Business Partnership (NBP) members in an effort to showcase the diverse and unique businesses that make up the Northside. NBP is a collaboration between Northside UP, the Greater North Salina Business Association, and CenterState CEO that works to promote, support, and engage Northside businesses. 

Photo Friday: Pepper Market

Written by Stasya Erickson1 Comment • December 14, 2012

We had a blast assisting with the Pepper Market, which took place last Saturday, December 8th at 812 N. State Street. Below are our favorite highlights from the event. The full album of photographs can be found on the Salt Market facebook.

Intangible Gifts

Written by Emma Voigt  • December 13, 2012

Sure, a few bulbs are out, but the white lights are twinkling. A homemade paper chain and a few reflective ornaments adorn the slightly lop-sided artificial spruce. The tree we recently put up at the Hopeprint home is a ‘Charlie Brown’ tree if I ever saw one. The neighbor kids do not seem to notice its shabby qualities, though. Every time they see it they ask, “When are you going to put presents under your tree?”

For most kids, it’s only natural that a tree should be surrounded with brightly colored packages tied up with shiny ribbons. Yet, every year many of us face difficulty making that dream a reality. Luckily, there are a number of organizations who step in and offer pre-selected, pre-wrapped gifts for “girl age 12” or “boy age 8.”

While the children are ecstatic about their new toys, Bob Lupton, the founder of Focus Community Strategies Urban Ministries, noticed that parents often feel a sense of shame when these organizations step in. This type of charity from strangers highlights the parents’ understanding that they are not responsible for their children’s joy on Christmas. Therefore, Hopeprint adopted Lupton’s idea to provide gifts in a more comfortable way.

The “Hope Store”, as it has been named, is a place for parents to shop for gifts. The store will be open from 12 pm to 3 pm on Saturday, December 15 at the St Clare Theater, 1119 North Townsend Street. While the parents/guardians are shopping, children will have the opportunity to make them gifts. The price is simply whatever customers feel they are able to give. All proceeds will go to Central New York Freedom Makers to support the International Justice Mission. IJM seeks to tackle the issue of human trafficking through a comprehensive approach to ensure justice.

Another benefit of the Hope Store is the educational experience it offers to a local Girl Scout troop. The girls will be running the store. According to Erica Weeks, one of the troop leaders, the girls could earn a badge for their participation in the store. The troop decided to work the store after learning about modern day slavery. As a few of the girls have said, they wanted to do something because they do not want young children like themselves to be enslaved.

Anyone interested in volunteering at the Hope Store or donating items should contact Nicole Watts, Hopeprint’s Executive Director at ourhopeprint@gmail.com. Hopeprint will accept donations up to the time doors open on Saturday. Nicole says they would love more gifts for children ages 0-3 and over 10. She also said they could also use more wrapping paper and juice for the kids.

The Hope Store abounds with social benefit that cannot be tied up with a bow, but there are no words to describe what it really means to folks facing economic hardship this holiday season. As an AmeriCorps VISTA, I myself have a hard time making ends meet. Since I have no children, I will not be shopping at the Hope Store, but I had to come up with creative handmade items for my loved ones. Luckily, my friends and family understand my position.

Nevertheless, when one of my neighbor kids looks up at me and asks with great anticipation where the presents that are meant to be under that tree are, I imagine how hard it would be to answer him if he were my child. As we unload the donated toys from cars, I see the kids get excited about certain items. I hear them innocently speak of the toys they want and how they would play with them. I imagine how disappointed they would be if there was nothing for them to unwrap during the holidays. Then I think to myself, the gifts are coming soon. They are at the Hope Store.

An Affinity for the Northside

Written by Jonathan Logan  • December 12, 2012

On an unusually sunny and warm mid-November afternoon, I took a short walk across the street from Northside UP to sit down with Joe Bonacci with the intent to learn more about the successful businesses he owns and operates. I’d met Joe through his father, Dr. Joseph Bonacci, when they teamed up to work on 807 North Salina Street with the help of New York Main Street funding. It was great to see how he continues to improve the building – the smell of fresh paint lingered in the air, sunshine spilled into the office through the large recently restored windows, and he informs me he’s planning to complete the upstairs apartments soon.

Our meeting was prompted after I read a recent article about how his company Highfield Call Centers was successful in winning a contract with Canadian-based energy company Superior Plus Corp and its upstate New York firm Griffith Energy. I wanted to congratulate him on the new contract and also to learn more about Highfield. What first began as a discussion about business quickly turned to more personal matters about Joe, particularly his childhood memories and the family roots that tie him to the Northside.

Joe Bonacci has always had an affinity for the Northside. Although he was born and raised in Fayetteville, Joe’s childhood weekends were spent roaming the Northside while his father worked at his dental practice cleaning, drilling and pulling teeth. “Dad didn’t think I should be hanging around all the blood and Novocain,” laughs Joe. “So up and down the sidewalk I went.”  He wandered along North Salina Street, visiting his uncle’s hat shop, sampling candy, and cooling off with Italian ice, all the while relishing the freedom to explore the neighborhood. He recalled the allure of the Knights of St. John’s (the one place Joe was told specifically to stay away from), sneaking peeks into their secretive storefront whenever he could, and how his Uncle Sam Bonacci was a renowned hatter on North Salina Street, making the best fedoras in the city.

Now a successful businessman himself, Joe still roams the Northside, looking at its historic building stock and envisioning where he might open his next business venture. Joe moved back to Syracuse from New Jersey to help his dad transition into retirement. Two years ago, he setup the home office for Excel Wholesale on North Salina Street next door to his family’s dentistry practice.  From here, Joe and his staff manage a food distribution business, which he expects to grow significantly in the next five years. He sees this location as a test case for someday being able to operate all of his businesses out of the Northside. “Being a part of the Northside’s revitalization is a solid investment for me that also helps the community,” says Joe.

The Northside isn’t the only place Joe owns a business, however, but he hopes to cut down on his travel by someday finding the appropriate building. Highfield employs 80 people, and is located in East Syracuse. “I looked at buying a number of North Salina street buildings and combining the storefronts but the layout didn’t seem to make sense,” he says when asked about why he chose East Syracuse. “I would love to be able to have both businesses located on the Northside, possibly leveraging connections with neighborhood institutions like St. Joe’s and other organizations downtown.”

Joe has grand visions for the future of the Northside. He sees a groundswell of activity and potential here, something he would love to share by bringing more people to the neighborhood to introduce them to the place he considers home. Looking forward, Joe will continue to search for new opportunities in this neighborhood, and invest in his own properties in the hope that others will do the same. In the meantime, Joe has finally found a way into the off-limits Knights space he was warned about as a kid. “All I had to do to was upgrade the bathroom and install new flooring,” he explains.

A detail of Joe Bonacci’s building ‘before’ and ‘after’ renovations through the NY Main Street Program

The final ‘before’ and ‘after’ photo of the building

On the Calendar: ArtRage Gallery and Open Hand Theater

Written by admin  • December 11, 2012

Where: ArtRage Gallery
What: Fair Trade Sales Day
When: Friday, 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm and Saturday, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

This weekend, ArtRage Gallery will transform into a Fair Trade marketplace. Vendors will display a great selection of merchandise including hand-made bags, scarves, jewelry, toys, and table linens. You’ll find items from Guatemala, Congolese Refugees, and work by local crafters.

While you’re there, browse the items for sale in the ArtRage Gallery shop, PosterWorks, where you can receive 10% off poster purchases with a Shop Syracuse Punch card.



Where: First English Lutheran Church
What: Open Hand Theater Performance of Amahl and the Night Visitors
When: Friday, 8:00 p.m. and Saturday, 2:00 p.m.

Don’t miss the captivating performances of Amahl and the Night Visitors. Open Hand Theater partners with Salt City Productions to bring us Gian Carlo Menotti’s operetta. With music, song, dance, and larger-than-life puppetry, watch as a mother, her son, and three wise men realize their dreams.


NBP Member: Brennan Stained Glass Studio

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • December 10, 2012

The Brennan Stained Glass Studio is CNY ‘s oldest glass studio. Services include repair and restoration of glass work as well as design and installation of glass pieces. You can also enroll in a variety of classes to learn the art of stained glass or take advantage of the open studio available for all artists, regardless of medium.

Looking for unique gifts? The studio has beautiful jewelry, coasters, art supplies, and more. During Shop Syracuse (November 19 – January 2) they’re even offering a 10% discount on all handmade jewelry and gifts.


Editor’s Note: Each Monday, we’re introducing a community spotlight piece highlighting one of our Northside Business Partnership (NBP) members in an effort to showcase the diverse and unique businesses that make up the Northside. NBP is collaboration between Northside UP, the Greater North Salina Business Association, and CenterState CEO that works to promote, support, and engage Northside businesses.