Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Walk on the Mild Side

Despite popular demand, I'm walking around and across Norwich on just any day without rain or snow (or locusts) when I'm not working. The number of third-party requests received at my job asking I be scheduled for overtime has amazed my bosses, but I'm determined to get my steps in so keep your cards and letters. 

Sunday was a rough day for walking some laps around Spaulding Pond at Mohegan Park. It wasn't technically speaking a nice day by any means. The skies were overcast, the air was a little raw and all in all it didn't feel much like late April. And yet, despite all of that, there were a lot of people at the Pond, many taking advantage of the weekend to get some fishing in. 

I don't know a lot about fishing (actually I don't know anything about fishing), but I always carry packets of mayonnaise with me in case someone does land the big one and is willing to share. I usually keep a couple of packets in the pockets of my Call Me Ishmael warm-up jacket in case you were wondering.   

I think the hardest part for Mohegan Park fisherpersons (I'm not sure if women who fish are called fishermen, so I'm going with persons and hope that covers everyone) is probably putting up with people like me asking them if they've caught anything. What I heard for the most part was the fishing was good, the catching not so much.

As I found out Sunday afternoon in casual conversation with about sixty people (and two chipmunks who heard about the peanuts I keep in the other jacket pocket), many of those who were at Mohegan Park came from beyond a Norwich zip code. 

They know all about Mohegan Park and stop by on a regular basis to hike some of the paths, barbecue at one of the grilling areas, fish (of course) and, when in season, to cool off at the beach. I don't know how much money the "Ice Cream Parlour on Wheels" was making, but there was a steady stream of customers heading towards that green truck so it was obviously worth somebody's while.  

My point, realizing it's hard to see when I'm wearing a hat, is that "passive recreation" which is what folks in the activities business call places like Mohegan Park is quite a draw for more people than just those of us who live in Norwich. 

And while we rack our brains trying to come up with new and/or improved reasons to attract people to choose the Rose City, perhaps, if we wait quietly for a moment like one of those fisherpersons I saw on Sunday, and track where people go and why they go where they go while in Norwich, and then work to enhance those experiences, we can build up our own brand.    

Joni Mitchell, in another lifetime, recalled with more than a touch of sadness 'when they paved Paradise and put up a parking lot.' We think it’s new things when perhaps it’s things we knew.  As I learned Sunday we need to not only look but to see.
-bill kenny

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