This week we look at the Greece Performing Arts Society.
Before GPAS formed in 1969
Between 1930 and 1950, people in the town of Greece had many opportunities to join in performing arts centered activities. Amateur theatrics were popular; not only was there the Paddy Hill Players troupe, but a number of churches, including St. John the Evangelist Church and Bethany Presbyterian Church staged annual plays.
By 1960 whereas students could join drama club or the school chorus or band, the opportunities for adults were fewer.
1969 – the Greece Performing Arts Society was formed
So, in 1969, the Greece Performing Arts Society was formed for just that purpose—as an outlet for adults who didn’t want to give up performing just because they were no longer in school. GPAS became the “umbrella organization to pull together and coordinate all the various community performing organizations.”
Initially there were four groups, the Community Orchestra, the Symphony Orchestra, the Choral Society, and a Summer theatre group. That first performance year, 1970-71, 165 people were in the various groups; they performed 20 concerts with an estimated total audience of 5,400 people.
GPAS was born from the adult continuing ed experience of Robert Holtz who founded the community orchestra. Dr. David Felter founded the Symphony Orchestra.
Ralph Zecchino founded the choral society and was its director for 44 years from 1970-2014.
Over the years, the theatre group usually presented two musicals a summer with a mystery or comedy play or two until 2013. Now GPAS co-sponsors a student summer production.
In 1992 Greece Performing Arts Society put on Nunsense which was an off-Broadway Production that ran for 35 weeks in 1985 and it is a musical comedy with a book, music, and lyrics by Dan Goggin, who is an American writer, composer, and lyricist. The musical Nunsense is a hilarious spoof about the misadventures of five nuns trying to manage a fundraiser. Sadly, the rest of the sisterhood died from botulism after eating vichyssoise prepared by Sister Julia Child of God. It was based on Dan’s early life experiences, including schooling by the Marywood Dominican Sisters. The musical of Nunsense did have six sequels but Greece Performing Arts Society only put on the original Nunsense the musical.
The society had a regular schedule of annual events, such as
Some of Different Concerts GPAS puts on
Winter Blah Concert
The spring concert
Concerts at the Shore
And the Supervisor’s Concert.
And they were there for special occasions such as: The 150th anniversary of the founding of Our Mother of Sorrows Church
And a solemn ceremony for healing after September 11, 2001.
They regularly perform at the Eastman theatre.
A highlight in the history of the Choral Society was performing in France for the 50th anniversary of the D-day invasion at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
Many Greece residents looked forward every summer between 1997 and 2016 to the GPAS annual garden tour fundraiser.
Today, GPAS is composed of three groups, the community orchestra, choral society, and concert band. As they have for more than 50 years, the Greece Performing Arts Society continues to offer musical enrichment to the Greece community.
Learn More about Greece Performing Arts Society and it history starting with The Prelude written by Bill Coons at www.greeceperformingarts.org/i-the-prelude. If you have any General Questions about GPAS then email them at email@example.com. Interested in becoming a member of GPAS then check out their membership page https://www.greeceperformingarts.org/membership. You can subscribe to their monthly newsletter to stay up to date on upcoming concerts, events and more. The Greece Concert Band, Choral Society, and Community Orchestra are pleased to be rehearsing at 75 Stutson Street.
The opening of the outdoor skating rink on the Greece Town Campus should bring back memories of the “good old days” to many of us who have lived in the area for a half century or more. Back then there were many opportunities for outdoor ice skating, including public schools, community parking lots and natural ponds.
Residents of Greece were frequent visitors, until 1991, to the Maplewood Park pond. In fact, the building near the pond that is now City offices was specifically built with ice skating in mind. The Ontario Beach Park parking lot was another favorite spot for us as were the nearby ponds along the lake. A January 4, 1948 Democrat & Chronicle article talked about the thousands that crowded area skating rinks.
In the 1940s and 50s Barnard and Britton schools, and I am sure other schools, were also sites of public ice skating and they were true community endeavors. The DPW would roll down the snow and bring in an old voting booth as a shelter. The local volunteer fire department would flood the field. (No plastic liner or safety bumpers back then.) When the snow needed to be cleared off the ice, plenty of shovels were available for anyone who wanted to help clear the snow. In 1948 a group of volunteers from the Greece Youth Foundation cleared four acres of land on Britton Rd near Forgham Road for a rink with water supplied from Fleming Creek. It was on private property but was used by anyone who came by.
By the 1960s, the Town converted the lighted tennis courts at Carter Park into an ice rink in the winter and in 1975 built a shelter large enough to provide a place to change skates.
We all had ice skates back then, whether you were a good skater or not. New skates were always a great Christmas gift. If not a Christmas gift there was always Cooks Hardware who did a thriving business in used and new skates along with sharpening skates.
As indoor rinks opened and times changed, outdoor ice skating seemed to disappear around the early 1990s, albeit for a few artificially cooled rinks around the County. Maybe it was the changing climate or other activities to keep us occupied, but it seems kids don’t own skates anymore. If the weather cooperates and more outdoor skating becomes available, things may change or maybe we just never will go back to the “good old days”.
By the mid-1880s a steam railroad was planned to run from Charlotte to Grand View Beach. This plan never went beyond being chartered and was soon abandoned. The electric trolleys that began to appear on the streets of large cities seemed a more practical solution for this short line, which would eventually be just over seven miles.
The Grand View Beach Railroad was organized in 1891 and ran from Charlotte to Grand View Beach, which was not far west of the end of Long Pond Road. By 1895 the line was extended to Manitou Beach with a long trestle over Braddock Bay. Washouts and deterioration of the trestle caused the line to go into receivership in 1907 and a new company was formed in 1908. Improvements were made along the line including a new Braddock Bay trestle.
After the World War of 1917-18, the popularity of the automobile caused revenue to plummet. The Manitou trolley had never been a huge money maker and by 1924 it was apparent that it would have to suspend operation at the end of the season. The passenger service was not resumed in 1925 and finally, the entire line and rolling stock were offered for sale in August 1925.
If you live along Beach Avenue or Edgemere Drive, the former route of the trolley can be hard to trace. But, an odd rail spike or strange jog in the road oftentimes reveals itself as part of that old Manitou line.
Photos, data supplied by Alan Mueller, Greece Historian’s Office.
If you have any information on our photos, call Alan at 663-1706.
That is just what families and couples might do in the summer of 1912. Sunday was the ideal time for an outing as the aver age work week was 5 and one-half days. The Rochester area was lucky to have Lake Ontario and Irondequoit Bay close at hand where they might travel for the cool breezes. Remember, it was before the days of inexpensive room fans or air conditioning. Between 1900 and 1924, Mr. J.D. Scott (a very resourceful entrepreneur) came up with a scheme he called “The Pink Ticket Trip”. He offered tickets from a small tent he would put up at the downtown four corners (Main and State). For a special 50-cent ticket (that’s $11.15 today) you boarded the Lake Avenue Trolley to Charlotte and Ontario Beach Park to see the sites there and perhaps have a ride on the circle swing or the “The Breezer” (Roller Coaster). You might have a photo taken at the outdoor tintype photographer with your “sweetie”, as it was an inexpensive and nice souvenir.
Then it’s off to board the J.D. Scott for a short lake trip to the dock at Sea Breeze. At the end of the dock is a small restaurant called “The Hawaiian Gardens”. A dance floor with automatic music provided by a Wurlitzer Orchestra Piano entertained the early afternoon crowd, Later on, a five-piece live orchestra was on hand to keep the dancers feet tapping to lively two steps, waltzes, and the Turkey-Trot! Then over the railroad tracks of the “Hojack Line” to Sea Breeze Park with a small coaster and a carousel built and run by the Long family of Philadelphia. The cotton candy is quite good as well as the fresh roasted peanuts.
Down a path which leads to Irondequoit Bay, there’s a Naphtha or Gasoline Launch, waiting to take passengers down to the end of the Bay. Stops could be made at any of the numerous hotels along the west bank, such as Pt. Pleasant, Birds and Worms, the Newport House, etc. The final stop on the Bay was Glen Haven Park with its large hotel, beautiful grounds, and an amusement park on the south end. If lunch had not been had earlier, but brought along (which was often the case), this was the place to spend some time. A large stage with vaudeville acts always attracted large crowds.
Boarding a Sodus Bay & Rochester Trolley for a trip back to the station on East Main Street, the car went through a num ber of lrondequoit’s wooded glens and over several streams. Gathering umbrellas, coats, ties, large ladies hats, and lunch baskets for the last time, you rode the West Main trolley back to Main and State Street and to transfer points at Clinton or St Paul Street. The trip could be made in reverse and the length of time at each stopover was only governed by the ticket holder. The only caution being, the final boats on the bay and lake stopped running around dusk.
Wouldn’t it be fun to take a trip back in time to enjoy the one-day excursion??? Remember, all electronic devices must be left at J.D. Scotts tent fore boarding the trolley……..
Photos, data supplied by Alan Mueller, Greece Historian’s Office.