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Niagara Falls
Thursday, December 7, 2023
Ross’s Ramblings: A perfect NOTL weekend with lots of love to go ’round
Zoran at Fritters on the Lake serves up fantastic fritters and friendship to lucky customers on King Street. ROSS ROBINSON

My thick dictionary defines “marketing” as the provision of goods and services to meet consumer needs.

This has always seemed a bit shallow to me, and I feel that people remember goods and services, but also how we made them feel.

In NOTL, visitors feel relaxed and welcome.

At 3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, and again the next day, I rode my bike on a leisurely trip from the Court House out to Walker’s Market on the Parkway. Just to feel the vibe, eh?

For energy, I stopped into Fritters on the Lake on King Street. Zoran Alimpic and his wife Dusanka are masters of enthusiasm and making apple fritters.

Customers from hither and yon were handled with Grecian alacrity and a warm attitude, feeling like they were getting a snack at a small shop in Athens.

The freshly-fried and warm fritters were excellent, especially after Zoran added a free scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Out past Fort George and along our wonderful Parkway fitness path to Walker’s Market, where we were delighted by warm and cozy autumn decorations.

Corn stalks, hay bales, multi-coloured pumpkins with and without warts and blemishes, and yellow, white and reddish mums.

We had the traditional pleasant chat with old pal and fifth-generation Jimmy Walker, who was busy laying new sod around the peaceful and well-visited mini roadside chapel they maintain.

He described their supply chain issues trying to keep fresh cob on the corn (or is it corn on the cob?) for the upcoming Thanksgiving long weekend.

They are doing their best. For me, this is an annual must-do meal, with hot apple cider.

Did I mention their pumpkin pie ice cream? Or freshly-baked pies and tarts of various sizes? All baking done by locals, adding to the good taste.

I returned to town via Veteran’s Memorial Park, and was saddened to see completely unused soccer fields (my friends, kids don’t “just play” any more.) Empty tennis courts and the municipal swimming pool without a drop of water in it.

An idea hit me upside the head. We are surrounded by the Niagara River and Lake Ontario, but yes, it would be nice to have an indoor pool.

Instead of a new and very expensive build in St. Davids, let’s get the engineering types at our well staffed NOTL Parks and Recreation department to investigate enclosing the existing pool in Memorial Park.

Butler building or bubble, let’s look at this concept. I’m just rambling, which is what I do.

A existing water filtration plant, change rooms and toilet facilities, plenty of free parking in place, and the pool unused for most of the year.

Even during the summer months, there are plenty of hours when the large pool is under-utilized, and on the odd occasion when the soccer fields are being played upon, the swimmers could be forewarned.

The well-maintained ball diamond is sad, and used, only rarely, by NOTLers of any age.

After a delightful bike ride back to town, I observed the Sentineal Carriages operation on King Street, across from Fritters on the Lake. Carriage drivers are smartly attired in black and white equestrian outfits, with classy top hats to add a sense of “Je ne sais quoi.” I don’t know what it is, but they add class to our town.

Meagan Sentineal was there, and back from a very horsey working trip to Invercargill in the Southland region of New Zealand.

In 1975, well-known Invercargill standardbred veterinarian Dr. Peter Williams had schooled me in the art of freeze branding. And I learned way back then that even those “on the inside on the backstretch” lost more money than they made at the horse races.

The bitter and expensive episode of Private Label failing to Quicken in the last furlong at Winton in 2001 turned out to be a money-saving lesson as I avoided betting on the ponies as life went on.

Meagan and her very big Belgian horse Whisky, with a freshly braided mane, delighted passengers by posing for souvenir photographs, and the horse munched on fresh carrots shyly offered by nervous children.

This is a very big event in a child’s life, especially for two youngsters with special needs who were being treated by their kind and patient parents.

There is so much love in our world that we should slow down and notice more often.

Carriage ride co-ordinator Hayley Beattie was running the horse and carriage business with professionalism and smiles, making each customer feel special.

Now this is great marketing: making people feel important. They will be back to Niagara-on-the-Lake with friends.

Just think how incredibly peaceful our little town could be if we made a big change. It hit me when I returned to the Court House at 4:30 p.m.: Was there a convention of souped up, high revving, open piped, music blaring muscle cars and motorcycles?

A good number of them took particular delight in gunning motors as they passed the cenotaph. It really is a cacophony of sound, so unneeded in our peaceful town.

Folks, it’s been done all over the world. Figure it out, and get rid of a lot of the vehicles on Queen Street. Just sayin’ – again.

In closing, is it too late ramble and suggest NOTL joins the intelligent trend and celebrate Halloween on the last Saturday of October each year? Lots of towns already do.

No more rushing home from school and work and no more exhausted, sugared-up kids trying to get to school the next day.

Remember, “today’s traditions were yesterday’s changes.”

Be bold and brave. Embrace change. It’s good for the soul.

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