October 23, 2021

Ready to move past 2020

Locals look forward to New Year’s Eve and beyond

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Jay McGowan and Livia Santana walk Saturday on a trail at Lime Hollow Nature Center in Cortlandville. People around the county shared their plans for New Year’s and reflected on 2020.

Normally, Tony Martin of Syracuse would spend New Year’s Eve getting together with friends and going out for dinner. With the pandemic, though, those plans have been ruled out.

Instead, he’ll be at home watching on TV to see if the traditional Times Square ball-drop will still take place.

“It is what it is this year,” he said Saturday. “I’m happy to be safe and, looking back on the year, giving thanks for good health and my family’s in good shape. So I think I’ll concentrate on that.”

Martin and others around Cortland County shared their plans Saturday for New Year’s Eve and what they look forward to in 2021.

A retiree, Martin said that to keep himself active since the pandemic started in March, he has walked three to four miles every Saturday in locations around the state. On Saturday, it was around Cortland and through SUNY Cortland’s campus.

All totaled, he estimated he’s walked around 500 miles since March.

The pandemic, Martin said, didn’t cause many changes in his daily life except for not being able to attend church services in person.

As for 2021, he looks forward to continuing his trekking around the state.

“It has kind of breathed a little new energy into me,” he said.

Marina Gorelaya of Homer also will stay home for New Year’s Eve instead of visiting friends, she said.

This, though, may not be a big issue as she was recently hit by a car while out walking and suffered fractures in her hip, right leg and neck and needs a cane to walk, she said as she was walking around the village green in Homer.

That, along with politicians not following guidelines by health experts, most notably not wearing masks, has caused her a lot of rage, depression and anxiety this year, she said.

But after her injury, she was overwhelmed with the support of the Homer community that looked after her, brought her food and sent her letters and cards while she was in the hospital.

“I just want to say thank you to all the people around,” she said. “They really brightened my days.”

For 2021, the SUNY Cortland piano teacher said she looks forward to being able to teach students in-person again and participate in faculty recitals. She also looks forward to visiting her son, who works at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

Jay McGowan and his wife, Livia Santana, said they’ll just be spending New Year’s Eve at McGowan’s home with his mother and sister, which isn’t different from what they’ve done in years past.

Santana, however, won’t get to visit her family in Venezuela, which she normally does for the holiday.

The pandemic hasn’t affected McGowan much as his work as a multimedia collections specialist at Cornell University who tracks birds has allowed him to avoid people in close gatherings.

Before the pandemic, he and Santana didn’t go out to social spaces much either, instead doing things like taking walks through nature like they did Saturday at Lime Hollow Nature Center in Cortlandville.

“All things considered, we’ve been pretty lucky,” McGowan said.

Plans for 2021, though, remain unset.

“It’s really up in the air,” he said. “We’re kind of waiting to see how the vaccine rollout progresses and how quickly we’re able to get back on track with normal things.”