Hadn’t planned on it, but I headed down to Buffalo’s west side to be a part of the big grand finale of the week-long project to rebuild the Powell family’s home, courtesy of ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.. How many chances does one have to be at an event like that? Not the Super Bowl, sure; but cool nonetheless.
Some random thoughts and video:
- I ran smack dab into show host Ty Pennington on my way to Massachusetts Avenue. Alas, rather than stick my camera a foot in front of his face to capture a picture, I maintained some dignity and waited until he had walked about 20 feet away.
- Despite being in a sketchy neighborhood, you could feel the excitement and positive vibes in the air this home build has generated.
From the volunteers to the neighbors to all the gawkers that came to witness the event from the “good” sections of town and the suburbs, everyone was happy to be there.
- The Buffalo Jills graced us all with a “Move that bus!” cheer.
- “Hurry up and wait” is a mantra I’ve heard many times in reference to a movie or TV set. Indeed, everyone stood around for a couple of hours while the “cast” of the show were shuttled to and fro by golf cart, the arrival of the limo that would soon bear the Powell family had to be rehearsed three times — same thing for the bus. Host Ty Pennington was good enough to grace the folks with a made-for-TV high-five sprint around the barriers.
- Apparently owing to her common Jamaican heritage with the Powell family, pop/hip-hop star Ashanti was in attendance.
Not much more I have to say on that. She was looking good.
- When the moment finally did happen, however, the crowd’s energy was electric as the bus pulled away to reveal the new house as the Powell family wept in joy.
Very cool to see their reaction. That’s gotta be pretty rewarding for the cast and crew of the show as well.
- The big reveal:
- I was briefly interviewed by a reporter for The Buffalo News, looking to get my feeling on the neighborhood and what this new home would mean for it. I told him it was a great thing for the community, particularly since ABC invested a pile of cash in the surrounding neighborhood as well. A new roof, new sidewalks, demolition of a crackhouse (replaced with a corner park) were amongst their investments.
These are all positive steps in the right direction for the families struggling to get by there. I can only hope the events on Massachusetts Avenue serve as a springboard to similar initiatives in other crumbling neighborhoods within the city. I know Buffalo’s mayor, Byron Brown, visited the site several times – let’s hope he saw it as more than just a photo op.
- This guy served as our entertainment while we stood around waiting. Loud and obnoxious, he tried to start a “Here we go, Buffalo; here we go!” chant early in the afternoon. He was joined by one other guy across the street. He mercifully stopped the chant after 3 or 4 rounds, finally realizing no one would join him.
We initially thought he was drunk, but subsequent evidence supported inebriation of the snackz variety. Every time we glanced back at him, he had a new bag of pretzels, Cheetos or cookies in his hands. His jacket must’ve been chockful of snackz.
- A elderly woman nearby was confused as to who was footing the bill for this whole endeavor. Steve and I agreed everything was paid for by wizards.
- Traffic was no problem. Got there around 2pm, found a spot easily. After the big reveal, got to the car and back home within about 20 minutes. (I’m sure you were all wondering.)
- I’m told the Buffalo episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition will air sometime in January. Stay tuned.
All in all, I’m glad I came downtown for it. While the rest of us might not be in quite the state of joyful contentment the Powell family is right now, I think Buffalo’s a better place for having had this happen. And so I issue a rare thanks to a major corporate entity like ABC – well done.