Discover CNY Day 2016

By Rick Peirson, Medical Administrative Officer, 174th Attack Wing

Discover CNY Day started early on an unusually sunny, warm, and EPIC day; during a frustrating cold and wet spring to date. As the sun shined upon us and took the chill out of the air; LGSers began to arrive in the NBT Bank Stadium parking lot. Having been given only a brief agenda of the day. The class of 2016 knew that they were in store for plenty of walking and some exploration of the city. Having a few class days under their belts, all were excited to find out what was in store. Curiosity and excitement filled the air. The Design team, also known as CNY Select, was scouring the parking lot looking to add members to its elite team of leaders who celebrate and promote CNY’s all-star industries, businesses, innovators, and entrepreneurs.

The class had 30 minutes to catch up on the past month, grab some breakfast and something to drink, then they were to get on the tour bus to begin our day. Fresh Regional Donut Authority ( cider donuts, still warm, were laid out on tables with a variety of snacks and breakfast pizza provided by Wegmans. To top it off was a piping hot coffee provided by Simple Roast Coffee ( After some brief conversation and a light breakfast we were on our way to Syracuse University and headed to the inauguration of our future as leaders in this community!

After a quick ride to SU and Lisa Weavers reading of the CNY Select Recruitment Letter, we arrived in the Manley Field house parking lot. The class was directed into the Carmelo Anthony Center and split into two teams; Home and Away. Each team would take turns touring the basketball facility and then the rest of Manley; where all other sports teams train and practice. There was a sprinkling of student athletes cloaked in Nike SU sports attire throughout the facilities. As we entered the Melo Center we walked down a timeline of achievement that the basketball team had accomplished over the years. The walls were covered with SU legends and trophies of past triumphant seasons. The pinnacle of these trophies being the 2003 National Championship trophy. Well-lit and encased in glass, the championship trophy could also be seen from the practice courts at mid court; a sparkling reminder of what is at stake every season.

As we went upstairs to view the office area of the SU men’s and women’s coaching staff, we had a surprise visit from SU Men’s Assistant Head Basketball Coach Mike Hopkins. Our jaws dropped entering his office and listening to his book recommendations on leadership. He welcomed us into his office, he was extremely friendly, and even allowed time for some photo opportunities. We continued the tour through the locker rooms and lounge areas for the players. Then it was time to tour Manley Field House and the indoor and outdoor practice fields.

We wrapped up the tour by meeting the “Home Team” in the SU Football team meeting room. The room was filled with SU embroidered leather chairs in a stadium style U shape that faced large white boards. Here we held a panel discussion with several members of the SU Athletic team. The discussion was based around how SU brings talent to the University; both players and staff.

After a short ride downtown, we arrived at Perseverance Park. Here we met our friend Michael John Heagerty ( The founder of the Yellow Fellow and former presenter at Envisioning the Future Day. Michael met us to take the class on a walking tour of downtown. We worked our way from Perseverance Park to the famous Dinosaur BBQ, for lunch.

We had stops on the way at Original Grain ( where we met Chris Bily. Chris told us about his vision for a healthy alternative in the former Tim Horton’s. Original Grain will bring a “West Coast” style healthy eatery featuring selections such as grain or tuna bowls, blended teas, and kelp noodles. We then toured the up and coming Pike Block with Cory LaDuke (, being developed by VIP Structures and represented by Cushman Wakefield/Pyramid Brokerage Company. Pike Block is the future of the center of Syracuse. Pike Block is a rejuvenation of several buildings that, when finished, will create over 130,000 square feet of retail and residential space. There will be over 70 apartments and 25,000 square feet of multi-level commercial space.

The walking tour soon took us to meet with Robert Doucette of Paramount Realty Group. We learned about the future of the Sibley’s building and its upcoming transformation. Doucette plans to turn the building from one of the largest eye sores to probably the most beautiful structure downtown. Paramount already has plans to move The Redhouse Arts Center ( and Aspen Dental into the new facility. Before our feast we had a quick stop at Gannon’s Ice Cream for a tasty treat (thank you M&T Bank!!) and a history lesson in Clinton Square. Here we learned about the story behind the Jerry Rescue monument from Michael John Heagerty. Our final stop on the walking tour was at the House of S. Jaye (, owned by Samantha Taylor. House of S. Jaye is tailored toward infusing Syracuse with a place for artists to share ideas and educate others on art techniques. You’ll also find several great gift ideas. From House of S. Jaye it was on to Dino for our feast.

Following a tasty lunch and quick bus ride to the Onondaga Lake Visitors Center built by Honeywell. Honeywell designed and built the center to provide access to all the work that scientists, engineers, and laborers have completed in efforts to make Onondaga Lake safe for us all to enjoy. During our tour we heard from; Craig Milburn- Brown & Sanford Consulting, Travis Glazier- Onondaga County office of the Environment, and David Fergot, Deputy Commissioner of Onondaga County Parks. These gentlemen informed the group of all the great things being done to improve the water quality of Onondaga Lake and the water front.

Finally, we received a “Halftime pep talk” from the inspirational Marty Byrne. It was almost like we were on the set of Any Given Sunday. If that didn’t get you pumped up about CNY then there is no hope for you! Throughout that day/evening Marty truly left his mark on Discover CNY Day (both figuratively and literally!). The speech also introduced a 20 minute video put together by the Discover CNY crew. It highlighted all of the team’s favorite areas in CNY that we didn’t have time to discover during our class day. There was also a fabulous Ferris Bueller’s Day Off reference that was mostly overlooked; making the design team feel really old.

From the Honeywell building we hopped on a bus and headed over to the historic CNY Regional Market, operated by the CNY Regional Market Authority. The class got a short intro and history on the Regional Market as well as a taste of what it is like to attend a Regional Market event. Eight vendors from the Regional Market agreed to stop and display some of their products. There was a speed dating themed round robin of demonstrations from each vendor followed by a 20 minute open shopping session. To wrap up the Regional Market event, LGS 2016 was visited by the new GM of the Syracuse Chiefs—Jason Smorel. Jason covered the great changes being made with his team and how affordable it is to make a Chiefs game a family event. He also invited us all to attend the game that evening.

Prior to attending the game, LGS Class of 2016 did the proper thing and threw a fantastic tailgate party in the Chiefs parking lot. The party was filled with fantastic food, cold beverages, plenty of selfies. Before attending the party, all class members signed their “letter of intent” to join CNY Select. They took their oath to celebrate and promote their community. As token of thanks to their commitment LGS 2016 members received a complimentary grab bag provided by the Discover CNY Design Team. Every class member received a bag of swag from local businesses. The total value of the bag was well over $300!!

To wrap up an EPIC Discover CNY Day, the class attended a Chiefs game at NBT Stadium. Empower Federal Credit Union and Syracuse Media Group graciously donated the use of their stadium boxes for the class to watch the game. Family members were invited to join at the tailgate and attend the baseball game. LGS Class of 2016 was able to experience firsthand that a night at NBT Stadium with the Syracuse Chiefs truly was a great family experience. Discover CNY Day was a fantastic experience for all those involved, giving the best class ever all the fuel needed to support the fact that CNY is a great place to work and play.