Bring out the snowstorm, and you bring out the best in New Yorkers.
That seemed to be the consensus of locals who abruptly found themselves with the time to catch up with and cater to neighbors, clear steps and sidewalks, cook a good meal and savor the rare opportunity to enjoy the people they love.
“My four-year-old said [Saturday] was ‘the best day ever,’” said Broadway music director Nadia DiGiallonardo, 38. She and her family “truly unplugged” from electronics and social media and played “every puzzle and game we’d never touched,” she dreamily recounted. “For a working mom, it was guilt-free kid time,” and a true gift.
Yes, DiGiallonardo knew many people found their routines vandalized and plans destroyed by the formidable storm (“my mother had tickets for ‘Hamilton’” only to find the show cancelled after schlepping to Manhattan from Bensonhurst) but she was enchanted by the happiness and helpfulness that melted the grim chill. Shoveling outside her Harlem home yesterday morning, “there was a really nice vibe on the street,” as neighbors chatted and checked in, she said. “Our neighborhood really pulled together,” and residents helped those who couldn’t help themselves, she recalled.
It was “heartwarming to see [Saturday] how New Yorkers were there and rallied one for the other,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said yesterday. “I can’t tell you how many circumstances I came across where people were out shoveling other people’s driveways and walkways. People were out pushing cars. . . It was just great to see how New Yorkers come together in a beautiful spirit of community,” he said.
Neighbors in the midtown apartment building of Steve DePass, 85, “America’s Singing Poet,” brought him chicken soup and homemade bread on Saturday. Yesterday, as he made his way with his cane two blocks west to do grocery shopping, no fewer than six able-bodied pedestrians offered to help him negotiate the “precarious and slippery” ice path. “Even in my stubborn old age egotism” he was touched by their solicitousness, realizing “one could easily become horizontal inadvertently.”
“When things like this happen, it’s wonderful, because it makes everyone slow down and forces you to reconnect with nature and humanity,” mused Frank Leusner, 44, the general manager of Yumiko, a dancewear company. Leusner, a Hudson Yards resident, declined a free ride proffered by a cab driver in the midst of the blizzard only to watch the driver pick up three different people – one an elderly woman with her groceries in tow – while promising them there would be no charge. “This brings out the best in everyone,” in part because so many people were abruptly released from their professional obligations. Liberated from their grinds and stress, New Yorkers not only noticed others in need of help, but eager to assist them. “I’d see people stumble in the streets and people would help them up,” Leusner said. (With Emily Ngo)