Vaught’s note: Owensboro native Nick Nicholas was an editor at the Cats Pause from 1984-1991. He currently lives in Pelham, NY and is Director of Sports Development at Nicholas & Lence Communications in New York City that includes heading up the public relations efforts for the NYRR Millrose Games at The Armory New Balance Track & Field Center in Washington Heights.
By NICK NICHOLAS, Contributing Writer
This time last year New Rochelle, a busy, friendly, sports-minded town 30 miles from New York City in southern Westchester County, New York, was in the early stages of preparations to honor New York Yankee great and unanimous Hall of Fame inductee Mariano Rivera with parade in July.
Today, the residents of New Rochelle are simply looking forward to putting COVID-19 in its rearview mirror and return to a normal way of life that includes going to popular New Roc movie theater, eating at one of the eclectic mix of restaurants on Main Street or hanging out at Glen Island Park near the Long Island Sound. Today, Glen Island Park is transformed into a drive-in testing site for the coronavirus.
Only a few miles away is Winged Foot Golf Club, hopefully the host to this summer’s U.S. Open in Mamaroneck originally scheduled for mid-June. The operative word being “hopefully” this summer.
Our family lives in Pelham, NY, a Westchester County neighbor bordering New Rochelle and a 30-minute commuter train ride to New York City. Both New Rochelle and Pelham are small communities with similar qualities you’d find in Kentucky …maybe you’d find in Madison County’s Richmond or Muhlenberg County’s Greenville – two Kentucky towns I know and love firsthand.
Everyone in the United States, everyone in the world for that matter, is experiencing similar new ways of life due to the coronavirus. Homes have been transformed into working offices. For weeks, maybe a month or more there is no school on site as usual – from pre-school to higher education – for our kids, teachers/professors and administrators. Restaurants are closed completely or simply open a few hours for only take-out. Signature movie theater marquees, similar to the one at our historic Pelham Picture House, are dark. Six-feet restrictions for individuals are mandatory when outside our own family unit. Outside activities are put on hold, possibly until the end of spring, beginning of summer.
Only difference here is that more than 8 million New York City residents and many others in the metropolitan area who depend on life in the Big Apple are in total self-quarantine.
Only other difference is, New York City and its suburbs are considered the epicenter of coronavirus in the United States.
Grand Central Terminal and its nearby streets in midtown Manhattan are a ghost town – something we’d only thought possible in a science fiction film. Grand Central Terminal’s Metro-North rush-hour trains that usually are packed like sardines to and from the many stops in Westchester County are all but empty. You can’t make this up: all of Broadway, Madison Square Garden, Empire State Building, Stature of Liberty, Ellis Island, American Museum of Natural History, Yankee Stadium and Citi Field are all closed.
We look forward – as everyone does – to celebrating normalcy. More than ever we are looking forward to dropping our kids off at baseball camps in New Rochelle, enjoying Pelham’s playgrounds and our school-yard baseball/soccer fields, taking the 30-minute commute to work a normal day in New York City that includes close encounters with yellow cabs with their annoying horns and tourists clogging up the sidewalks.
Did I say normal? Now that would be nice.