ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — It’s hard to believe that two years ago, News 8 wrote this in an article:
New York Post writer Maureen Callahan blasted Rochester in a recent article about the new Wegmans in Brooklyn.
In the article, she wrote “No, this is Wegmans, an exotic (!) import originating in upstate New York — not fashionable or hipster upstate New York, not Rhinebeck or Kingston, but grim and depressing Rochester.”
Grim and depressing?
Almost immediately, the phrase became a meme on the Rochester Internet, and what some described as a “low blow” from Callahan oscillated between disgust, to light-heartedness.
So, naturally the Red Wings got involved, as News 8 reported in 2019:
The Rochester Red Wings were quick to notice and they announced on Twitter that they would be hosting “Maureen Callahan Night” on Friday, August 21 of next year — a night celebrating our “grim and depressing city.”
The hats and merchandise featuring Spikes as a grim reaper took off not that long after. Dan Mason, GM of the Red Wings, said the t shirt and hats were still top sellers — between the tongue and cheek “undefeated season” merch — during the baseball-less 2020.
Now, Maureen Callahan Night is finally here, and the New York Post writer is ready to go.
“I’m breaking in that very one for Saturday,” Callahan said.
Looking back at the original column — as well as the follow up column — Callahan says that she never could have expected this response, reiterating that her piece was more meant to lambast her fellow New York City residents, criticizing that they have lost their edge.
“(The) worldwide media was covering this and I thought, ‘New York used to be like, if you were waiting in line, it was like to get into studio 54,'” she said. “It was for something like really exciting and really decadent and really exclusive.
“And now New Yorkers are lining up for a grocery store,” she said. “So the joke is on me because, a second Wegmans location is opening in New York City.”
Coming up this Saturday, at 6:05pm, Callahan — a Long Island native — will have an incredibly Rochester day. On a Zoom call with local media, she and Mason walked through her not-so-grim-and-depressing day.
And it includes a trip to “the Mecca,” her phrase for the Pittsford flagship Wegmans.
“She will be visiting the promised land, Pittsford Wegmans,” Mason chimed in. There, Callahan will have lunch with owner of the Wings Naomi Silver. Following that, Callahan will go the George Eastman Museum, then The Strong Museum of Play.
If that wasn’t “Rochester” enough, she’s even throwing out the first pitch.
“I’m coming on Saturday with that spirit,” Callahan said. “And hopefully there won’t be any batteries thrown, which is what normally happens down here with the hooligans at Yankee Stadium.”
Not to be lost in the shuffle of the day, is the lesson that this two-tears-long story has shown. She still says it’s the funniest thing that has ever happen to her, but maybe it’s even a chance at redemption.
“Even before the pandemic, it had really turned into into what felt like a pretty positive thing,” she said. “But now, as we’re sort of working our way out of the pandemic, it feels like we all have had our perspectives skewed a bit. And the idea that, we can all get together in a baseball stadium, and laugh about this.
“And I can sort of come on my, my pilgrimage and be forgiven. You know, it’s amazing. I mean, what’s not to love about it,” she said, while admitting that she had her groceries delivered from Wegmans in the City, but has never set foot in one.
Mason also says that while it is a pilgrimage for Callahan, this is also a chance to show what Rochester is all about: making the best of what we have, and showing love for our community.
“This is really all about civic pride,” he said.
“What I’ve learned is I really did not know how strong a sense of pride Rochester and its people have,” she said. “It’s my schooling and it’s a lesson well taken.”
- First pitch at 6:05pm vs. Lehigh Valley
- Tickets here
- Food specials include country sweet boneless wings, Zweigels’s natural casing white hots, the “trashcan” aka a plate in a cup
- A special Genesee Brewery “Grim and Depressing” ale