2017-05-17 / Mailbag

Lanza’s well-deserved recognition

To The Editor:

Belleayre Mountain, designated as “NYS Winter Snow Park” by Tony Lanza, who served as superintendent from 2001-’12, represents much more than the sum of its topographical, physical and ecological parts. It has functioned as an economic catalyst, a key source of employment, and a command post that provided food, shelter, and hope. Its sphere of influence has affected lives and communities in the best and worst times.

During Tony Lanza’s tenure, his irrepressible enthusiasm coupled with energy, ideas, and visions, far exceeded his job description requirements. His expertise in all phases of mountain maintenance and inter-personal communication skills were channeled toward expanding and upgrading trails, snow making and grooming to attract and retain a multi-state skier population.

On Saturday evening April 22, under the auspices of ORDA, Tony Lanza became the first honoree inducted into Belleayre’s reinstated “Hall of Fame”. The award ceremony was a well-deserved tribute to and public validation of his many contributions.

Under his stewardship, one of Tony’s primary goals was to bring Belleayre to its unrealized potential as a four-season destination. The formation of a public/ private partnership, was a marketing strategy developed to enhance its image, increase revenue and promote tourism by reaching out to a more diverse population than winter season skiers. A mutually beneficial relationship with the Belleayre Music Festival and its summer concert series was a collaborative venture that brought scores of visitors to the area, converting many day trippers to weekenders and second home owners and in some instances, to permanent year-round residents.

Launched in 1974, the Fleishmann’s Tennis Tournament became an eagerly anticipated summer weekend event. As a major tourist attraction it brought an influx of participants and spectators to the village and also fueled the local economy. In 2003, I had the pleasure of working with Tony when he initiated a micro-sponsorship program between the mountain and the Fleishmann’s Open. With the “Music on the Mountain” as a template and my relevant roles as tournament director, skier and conservatory board member, our liaison was a productive win/win endeavor. Photos in the Catskill Mountain News of the “Beast of Belleayre” playing tennis on the Fleischmanns’ courts and of all the division champions crowned with Belleayre Mountain hats generated positive, fun publicity. From 2004-’08, all registered players received originally designed shirts, with dual tennis and skier logos. As limited editions, they have become coveted collectibles that are truly priceless, as was the symbiotic partnership experience.

The Hall of Fame award ceremony and well deserved accompanying accolades were testament to Tony’s past accomplishments as well as his ongoing commitment and dedication to the mountain and surrounding communities. Audience members took time to reminisce, reflect and share cherished memories of personal relationships with Tony as manager, mentor, ski instructor, proselytizer, and supportive friend. The crowded room was permeated with a palpable, mutual outpouring of love - from Tony to his “Forever Belleayre Family” and from his acolytes to their leader.

Sindy Becker, PhD
Fleischmanns

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