National Orienteering Day at Thornden Park, Syracuse, on Saturday September 20, 2003, was a delightful, although minimally attended, event. Despite dire forecasts of stormy weather due to spin-off from Hurricane Isabel, and the fact there had been high winds in the park on Friday as Shawn Forney visited control sites to determine their waypoints for possible GPS enthusiasts, Saturday dawned calm, sunny and dry, with temperatures into the 70's -- a perfect day for orienteering.
With a city parks permit, we set up in the renovated carriage house of the original Davis estate (his mansion is long gone; a playground and picnic area occupy the site where it once stood). Eric Smith arrived early to set out the more distant control flags. He and Shawn stayed throughout the morning helping with registration, starts, finish, and most important, talking with people about orienteering.
Our guests were few but enthusiastic. First to arrive was a gal and her nephew, 15, from Syracuse, who chose to do the Yellow course together, followed by leaders and scouts of Troop 20, also of Syracuse, on the White. Then came an energetic gal from Cicero, who ran both White and Yellow, and lastly a fellow and his son from Ithaca who did Yellow together, after which he blazed through the short Orange alone in 16 minutes. This added up to ten people (twelve starts), all newcomers to the sport.
Winners of the drawing for Nexus 7DNL compasses supplied by Brunton and a 50 Highest Peaks cd supplied by MapTech were as follows:
Kelly Bargobos, 36, Syracuse -- compass Hayes Seymour, 15, Syracuse -- compass Chris Fasuyi, 16, Syracuse -- compass Byron Wilson, 48, Liverpool -- compass Keaton Daley, 11, Ithaca -- compass Joe Daley, 53, Ithaca -- map cdOthers who took part for their first time orienteering were Michael Wilson, 54, Brandon Jordan, 13, and Emmanuel Fasuyi, 13, all of Syracuse; and Patti Mythen, 35, of Cicero.
The three courses were set on a new black and white map of the park, compiled from a couple of different representations supplied by Syracuse City Parks department and fleshed out by a week of fieldwork. The result was reduced to an 8.5x11 sheet at a scale of approx. 1:3000 with 3m contours. From the low end of a reentrant on the north side to the top of the drumlin in the SE end of the park there is a rise in elevation of 160 feet, or about 53 meters. The entire park is 76 acres, about one-third of a sq. K., completely surrounded by city streets abutting the Syracuse University/SUNY-ESF complex. This map is available for future use for introduction or training.
Thornden's documented history dates back to the mid-1800's and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Urban Parks. The park has many interesting features, including a famous rose garden, a natural amphitheater where Shakespeare, opera, and country music festivals are held, brick walkways and stone pillared stairways from WPA days on many of the slopes, a 2 million gallon standpipe on the drumlin top that as part of the city water system holds gravity fed water from Skaneateles Lake, and a unique weeping beech tree covering more than 2500 sq.ft. heralded by the Syracuse newspaper in 1913 as being the largest in the world, to name a few.
The turnout was admittedly a bit disappointing. Although National Orienteering Day was listed on the CNYO web site and in two local newspaper publications, there just seemed to be too many other things for folks to do that day.
Thank you, Eric and Shawn, for sharing your time and expertise and being there to help.
2003 CNYO National Orienteering Day Event Director