The Lanza Legacy
To The Editor:
Following are reflections on Belleayre Mountain Ski Center and the Tony Lanza legacy.
As one of the original members of the small cohort that was dedicated to actually “saving Belleayre” when it was under threat of closure, because major changes in management and mission are imminent, it seems an appropriate time to reflect on the meaning of the mountain and the Tony Lanza legacy.
Belleayre has always been more than the sum of its parts. It stands as a hub, a critical source of employment and stimulus for a viable local economy. Its sphere of influence radiates out, affecting the surrounding area and individual lives, through the best and worst of times.
During this past devastating year it was a beacon of hope, a command center of aid, its staff and volunteers providing food, shelter, and solace, saving lives and salvaging communities. It is the place where the initial “learn to ski” experience directed how, when and where families would spend time together. It launched multigenerational cycles; parents, children, and grandchildren, participating in healthy outdoor activities, a life style mandated by the mountain.
Belleayre represents a social entity, a catalyst for forging lifelong friendships. A site for celebrating festive occasions, weddings, gala dinner dances, barbecues on the sun deck, showcasing artisans, and offering culturally enriched exposure to diverse and eclectic entertainers.
At this time of dramatic, and what is hoped will be positive change for the future of the mountain as part of ORDA, the DEC, with poorly conceived, counter productive timing designated Tony, superintendent for more that a decade, as collateral damage.
Tony, respected and loved by Belleayre skiers, in perpetual motion, spouting an unceasing flow of conversation, plans, projects, liaisons, partnerships, constantly proselytizing, broadcasting, reaching out to a wider audience – upstate, downstate, out of state, divulging the best kept secret, raising the public level of awareness about the great skiing at Belleayre via his impossible-to-curb enthusiasm and boundless energy, all channeled toward making the mountain bigger and better, enhancing its image, increasing revenue, attracting more bodies.
Tony’s stewardship was steady in its striving to bring Belleayre to its full potential by promoting the area as a four-season destination offering attractions and amenities, festivities and shows, by supporting the partnership with the Belleayre Music Festival, and by initiating a micro sponsorship program for the Fleischmanns Tennis Open. Tony, an indomitable spirit, inimitable personality, indelible figure on the mountain, always doing more than the specifics of his job description.
“Spending the day skiing with Tony Lanza” has been a perennial item at the Conservatory’s Memorial Day fundraising auction. The competitive and generous bidding that this elicited underscores that the opportunity to ski with Tony is considered priceless. Many members of Tony’s forever Belleayre family have cherished memories of spending time at the mountain with Tony as he reveled in his multi roles as oracle, mentor, ski instructor, and supportive friend, and hope to have the pleasure of these “priceless” experiences this upcoming winter.
A terminal is, by definition, an end point. It marks the end of a journey. A terminal is also a point of connection, the threshold to a new destination, new beginnings, for Belleayre, for Tony Lanza, for all of us.
Sindy Becker, Ph.D