Seamus Gallivan has a theory – that Buffalo got its nickname, “The City of Good Neighbors,” from the way people come together here after our infamous snowstorms.
“People dig each other out,” he said.
And it was in keeping with that spirit that on Friday at 5 p.m., Gallivan, who does community promotion through his organization, “The Good Neighborhood,” put out an invitation on Facebook for an oh-so-Buffalo style flash mob: to shovel sidewalks Saturday on the West Side.
At 10 a.m. Saturday at the Sweet_ness 7 coffeehouse on the corner of Grant Street and Lafayette Avenue, about 10 people arrived, ready to shovel wherever it was needed.
“To have anybody but my mom and I [show up] is great,” Gallivan said.
They grabbed shovels, some provided by the coffeehouse, and they began clearing snow.
The snow had become hard and slippery since Wednesday night when about a foot of snow fell across the region.
Sidewalks along Lafayette and its side streets were still packed with snow despite city ordinances requiring property owners to clear sidewalks. It was only getting worse as more snow fell Saturday.
Kelly Kroese, who lives nearby on Richmond, showed up for the shoveling party because she knows there are many people on the West Side who don’t have cars and have no choice but to hoof it through the snow.
“It’s dangerous,” she said. “People walk in the streets,” she said, because many sidewalks go uncleared.
“It’s our city,” said Riy Mallahi, another volunteer shoveler. “It’s our neighbors. A lot of elderly folk live in this area.”
For Gallivan’s mother, Nan, the shoveling was simply “an act of kindness.”
The shovelers joked that it was excellent exercise too.
“Better than pushups,” Mallahi said.
The shoveling was appreciated by at least one West Sider.
Roderick Lark trudged through slushy snow on the street, avoiding the sidewalk along Grant Street.
“That’s good,” he said when told what the shovelers were up to.
“Ain’t nothing people can do,” he said. “Some people shovel. But some people don’t want to shovel.”
Lark said he thought the city should step up and take care of the snow on the sidewalks.
Gallivan had come up with the idea for the shoveling flash mob last year – but with so little snow last winter, there was no opportunity.
Wednesday’s storm gave him the chance to see if it could catch on.
“I love shoveling,” he said. “I think shoveling is great. I know that’s not normal, but who wants to be normal?”
With plenty of snow still on the ground, he’s hoping to arrange another shoveling party, perhaps as soon as Monday. He urged anyone interested to check his group’s Facebook page for details.