After taking a year off of in-person activity because of the pandemic, the Times Old Newsies will be back in business on Friday. The Newsies, an organization that started in 1939 to feed those in need at Christmas, have raised more than $2 million from generous local donors over the years.
Now partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania, the Newsies use donations to produce boxes of food that feed thousands of families. It’s one of the few charities in which every single penny collected is used to fill those boxes.
Everyone in the group volunteers their time, so there are practically no administrative costs — and those are covered by the Erie Times-News. Please give generously when approached on Friday by one of the good-hearted guys and gals in the red jackets.
• Former “Saturday Night Live” star Ana Gasteyer will take her popular “Sugar & Booze” show to Mercyhurst University’s Performing Arts Center on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. Her latest album, “Sugar & Booze,” is a collection of festive seasonal songs that offers a swinging nod to the vintage holidays of yore.
Following her six-season stint on “SNL,” Gasteyer starred in numerous Broadway shows including “Wicked.” She’s toured with her band since 2016, getting rave reviews for her high-octane vocals.
• The Flagship City Food Court, now open for business on North Park Row across from Perry Square, drew a large, enthusiastic crowd on the day I visited last week. The food choices offer something for almost everyone, and I bought pints of Peachy Paterno, the delicious ice cream from Penn State’s creamery, at the Straw Hat store. It tasted great accompanying our Thanksgiving pumpkin and pecan pie.
• Construction on the buildings on North Park Row continues at a rapid pace, although it was sad to see the historic Greyhound Bus Depot fall to the wrecking ball. When I recently mentioned the building’s architectural significance, I heard from many readers, some who wistfully recalled bidding farewell to family members who took a bus out of the depot on their way to war. The building held so many memories.
If you haven’t driven downtown in a while, the amount of construction taking place is impressive. The new Child Development Center on East 10th Street, across from UPMC Park, takes up most of the block. It’s huge.
• The former General Tire building on West 12th Street between Peach and Sassafras streets is also nearing completion. It will house Life NWPA, offering living independence for older adults.
• Major League Baseball will begin enforcing new housing rules for minor league players in 2022, which means the days of half a dozen players boarding at a single residence will be over. That’s the way it used to be in Erie and other cities, but many players have been staying at hotels and motels in recent years. According to the new rules, each room cannot house more than two players.
• Longtime PGA Rules official Slugger White, who retired in August after a 40-year run on the pro golf tour, recently joined LIV Golf Investments, the Saudi-backed fund that’s behind the proposed start-up league led by Greg Norman. White had worked closely with the late Ted Grassi for many years, attracting top players to compete at the Greater Erie Charity Golf Classic.
During those years, White, who spent two years playing on the PGA tour, offered to partner with the “less talented” amateurs in the field. It’s how he came to become my playing partner in the 1990 Charity Classic. After the first three holes, White looked at me and asked, “Partner, are you a bad golfer playing well or a good golfer playing poorly?” I felt proud that he couldn’t tell the difference. It took only a few more holes before my lack of skill became abundantly clear.
• Tom Matusiak, who died Nov. 19 at 77, was an extremely talented girls basketball coach at East High School for many years. Tom later became a deacon in the Catholic Church and served faithfully for more than a decade at Holy Trinity Church, assisting Monsignor Tom McSweeney and other pastors there. Tom was a great guy, a good family man and a coach who always cared deeply about the welfare of his players.
• Sorry to see that Doug Jones, the longtime Cleveland Indians relief pitcher, recently died at the age of 64. Jones was part of the first Indians Winter Caravan that visited Erie, and he went out of his way to talk to the fans in wheelchairs who came from the Barber National Institute. Many people there became Indians fans for life because of Jones’ kindness.
• Kenny Blanks, who died Nov. 14 at the age of 60, was a dedicated Erie coach and a leader in the athletically gifted Blanks family. It seemed that wherever you went, there was Kenny, with his bright smile and winning ways. He will be greatly missed.
Kevin Cuneo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Erie Times-News: Times Old Newsies return in force on Friday throughout Erie County