Happy Independence Day, America. Erie folks will celebrate the Fourth of July at picnics and parties, and there will also be services to honor those who sacrificed their all for this country.
Fireworks, so accessible these days, will be seen and heard well into the wee hours of the morning, which will not be pleasing to the ears of dogs in the area. I expect to have a 65-pound golden retriever on my lap for most of the day.
Get ready for the booms:Fireworks displays abound in Erie this summer
Manage the booms:Tips to keep pets happy and healthy during the summer firework season
● Several readers wrote to describe their meetings with actor Jeremy Renner, who has twice been nominated for an Oscar. Renner was in town this past week to film portions of his “Mayor of Kingstown” series on Erie’s east bayfront, near the Lampe Marina.
Renner was spotted at Oliver’s Beer Garden, where he graciously met fans who politely approached him.
Erie goes Hollywood:Paramount+ streaming drama films scenes on bayfront
● Mercyhurst Preparatory School graduate Alex Poloskey, now working as a waiter at an upscale Nashville restaurant, also recently had a brush with fame. Assigned to wait on a table, he was surprised when the couple seated 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.
Related:Tom Hanks makes dreams come true for fellow manual typewriter enthusiast in Goodlettsville
● Monsignor 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 has also appeared in such films as “O Brother, Where Art Thou.”
He said when he played an elevator operator in “You’ve Got Mail,” the part called for him to show emotion as he thought of his girlfriend. “To get the mood right, 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 the Rev. Robert Susa were saddened when he died on June 25 at 87. Susa was known as an excellent economics teacher who made a normally dry subject quite interesting. He served for decades in multiple leadership positions at the college.
● During a brief trip to the Midwest, it was fun seeing two paintings by Childe Hassam at the Art Institute of Chicago. Hassam, of course, is the artist who painted “Summer Afternoon, Isle of Shoals,” which is on display at Blasco Library.
The Chicago Museum currently features an excellent exhibit of works by Paul Cezanne. Coupled with scores of paintings by impressionists, the museum’s collection ranks with the world’s best.
● I hadn’t visited South Bend, Indiana, at length in three or four years and was impressed by the new neighborhood developments there. Beautiful Howard Park, located in what had been a rather sketchy area on Saint Louis Boulevard, offers state-of-the-art facilities for walking, climbing, dining and gathering indoors. A yoga class was underway when we arrived, and live music began as we were leaving.
Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg led the charge to create the park, located on the St. Joe River. It has transformed the neighborhood.
In nearby Mishawaka, the Robert Butter Riverfront Park is also a gem. Clearly, leaders in that region are taking full advantage of their waterfront, which does not compare in beauty or scope with Erie’s bayfront. But South Bend and Mishawaka are way ahead of us in the drive to take advantage of the riverfront and improve previously neglected neighborhoods.
● Billy Joel was in fine form at his June 25 concert at Notre Dame Stadium, but I thought his guitarist, Mike DelGuidice, stole the show when he sang “Nessum Dorma,” made famous by the late Luciano Pavarotti.
DelGuidice, who has played in Joel’s band since 2013, once fronted a Billy Joel tribute band. He’s said to be a brilliant musician and he can really sing. Joel himself hired DelGuidice on the spot after hearing the tribute band.
● Longtime Buffalo Bills trainer Eddie Abramoski, who died at 88 on June 25, never forgot his Erie roots. He’d been an excellent athlete here who went on to play briefly for the Detroit Lions. An injury ended his career, but he switched gears and became a trainer. Those were the days 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.
More:Eddie Abramoski, one of Buffalo Bills’ original employees, dies
● Speaking of big-time sports figures who fondly remember their hometown, Arizona Cardinals star James Conner will host a football camp on July 9 at McDowell’s Gus Anderson Field. Kids ages 7 to 17 are invited to attend.Conner, who starred at McDowell, Pitt and for the Pittsburgh Steelers before joining the Cardinals in 2021, has a great way with kids. The camp promises to be one of the best.
Kevin Cuneo can be reached at email@example.com.