Bill and Tony Lipuma, of Lipuma’s Coney Island — with Deputy City Manager Nik Banda — shared their favorite memories and stories of downtown Rochester over the last 50 years for the first Front Porch Stories event July 18, 2019. Bill Lipuma passed away in December 2020.

Bill and Tony Lipuma, of Lipuma’s Coney Island — with Deputy City Manager Nik Banda — shared their favorite memories and stories of downtown Rochester over the last 50 years for the first Front Porch Stories event July 18, 2019. Bill Lipuma passed away in December 2020.

Photo provided by the Rochester DDA


Front Porch Stories returns this month

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published June 9, 2021

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ROCHESTER — After a year of social distancing, the community is invited to gather once again to hear from some of the most interesting people in town during the Rochester Downtown Development Authority’s Front Porch Stories event.

In 2019, Rochester DDA Director Kristi Trevarrow launched the series, which invites the public to bring their lawn chairs to the front porches of various homes in the area to learn more about local business owners, elected officials, historians and more.

“Front Porch Stories came out of this idea that there are some amazing people and some amazing stories in our community, and we just wanted to find a new and interesting way to share those stories,” she said.

The inaugural series kicked off with Bill and Tony Lipuma, of Lipuma’s Coney Island, who shared their favorite memories and stories of downtown Rochester over the last 50 years from the front porch of Deputy City Manager Nik Banda’s house.

“We had about 150 people come, and it was amazing. Your face hurt from smiling so much,” Trevarrow said.

Former Rochester Mayor Rob Ray and Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm Museum Director Patrick McKay were also featured in the inaugural year of the series. Salvatore “Bill” Giuseppe Lipuma has since passed away — at the age of 89 in December 2020.

Those who missed the first two events can still view the recordings on the DDA’s website.

“There’s just something special about people coming together and hearing those stories with their neighbors,” Trevarrow said.

The Front Porch Stories events are not held in downtown Rochester intentionally.

“They were all done out in the suburbs the first year,” said Rochester City Councilman Mark Albrecht, who serves on the DDA’s Community Development Committee. “We wanted to make sure that the DDA wasn’t only about the little downtown-defined district. We wanted to get out into the community, because the downtown is the community, and the community is the downtown, so we wanted these stories to be in people’s homes,” he said.

Despite its popularity, Front Porch Stories was canceled last year due to COVID-19.

Since then, the series has been the one event that people have been overwhelmingly asking Trevarrow to bring back in 2021.

“We were excited that a lot of people were asking about it, because we had only done it in 2019, so it was kind of exciting for people to ask for it to come back,” she said.

This year, the free Front Porch Stories series will return June 22 with the Rewold family speaking to the community outside at the Royal Park Hotel.

“We are actually going to have three generations of Rewolds — we’ll have Bev Rewold, the matriarch of the Rewold family; we will have Frank Rewold; and then we will have his kids, Jason, Sean and Ashley. Technically, there will be four generations of Rewolds because there will be some grandchildren there too,” Trevarrow added. “It’s free, so people can come and just enjoy some lemonade and hear some stories about our community.”

On July 27, Rochester Police Chief Steve Schettenhelm and Rochester Fire Chief John Cieslik will share their stories with the community from the front porch of Banda’s house.

A third speaker, which was not yet confirmed at press time, will be announced in the coming weeks and will be featured Aug. 24 at a to-be-determined location.

Albrecht said the DDA is really focused on improving the quality of life for the residents of the greater Rochester area, because a lot of people feel like downtown Rochester is their downtown, regardless of if they geographically live in the city of Rochester.

“Front Porch Stories are a great chance to come out and meet your neighbors. Bring a chair. There’s lemonade and cookies. It will just be like the good ol’ days. It’s what small town America is all about,” he added.

For more information, contact the Rochester DDA at (248) 656-0060.

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