Erick Tichonuk, Lyons, NY
If you ever wonder whether one person can really make a difference you should crew aboard the Lois McClure. Nowhere is it more evident than when we pull into a port and everything runs great, from reserved docking space, to crowds of people showing up, to gifts of meals. No place is the power of one more evident than in Lyons, and that title goes to Robert Stopper. Ask any boater on the Erie who has stopped in Lyons, they know Bob. He is a tireless promoter of his community, caretaker of all who stop, and a “get it done” individual.
Bob’s been taking care of us for many years as we’ve toured the canals. As always, he reached out at the end of last year to see if we were coming through so he could be prepared. We stayed in touch as our tour schedule solidified and Bob went to work. Bob will be the first to say he’s not a one-man-band, but he has an amazing ability to rally his community. As the tour got underway I received the full itinerary from Bob about the donations of meals, hotels and rides to and fro, from the generous citizens of Lyons.
The delay in our schedule due to canal closure ultimately impacted our visit to Lyons. Rather than taking a “day off” in Lyons and opening the following day we ended up pulling into town and immediately opening for four hours, and that was 24 hours late. Did this ruffle Bob’s feathers? No way. He adapted and overcame. He met visitors at the dock at the original appointed hour of our visit and let them know of our new schedule. As a result when we opened a day late there was a line of people waiting to board! He even made new arrangements for our meals including a chicken BBQ for lunch and a community pizza party complete with homemade salad and maybe even an icy cold beer. At this very special evening meal the crew was proud to receive acknowledgement of our efforts to keep the history of the canal alive in the form of a beautiful engraved glass plate, now proudly displayed at our Basin Harbor campus. We were able to reciprocate a small token of our thanks by presenting Lyons with their own white oak and pine trees slated to be planted at the school.
The crew of Lois McClure wishes to acknowledge Bob, and the many others like him along the canal, who make a huge impact on their communities. They are the spirit of the Erie Canal.