A Love Letter to Poughkeepsie: The Town That Raised Me
With Thanksgiving being last week, and we are now into December, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on certain aspects of my current situation, and I have much to be thankful for. If you were to talk to me in February of 2020, I would’ve told you that I was moving into a new apartment in Troy, New York, preparing for my first job out of college and that I was ready to spread my wings! Never would I have thought that just several weeks later I would have to move back into my childhood home back in Poughkeepsie. Moving back home was never on my agenda. I would tell people that Poughkeepsie was a great place to be raised, it’s a wonderful spot to visit, but it was not a place that I cared to stay. At the time, it felt like I used up all that the area had to offer me. The thought of returning to Poughkeepsie was so ensnaring, so constrictive.
I was recently talking to a friend from the city; however, as we were making plans for them to visit, I was gushing all about the area. It made me stop and think that things aren’t all that bad. It was one of those moments where I inadvertently started counting my blessings, and I came out with eyes wide open.
The Hub of the Hudson Valley
Poughkeepsie is the hub of the Hudson Valley. There is a reason that many people say “The Poughkeepsie area” when describing the region at large. And where I grew up in Poughkeepsie, I got the best of so many worlds. I live in Poughkeepsie, but I went to Hyde Park schools such as St. Peter’s Catholic School and then FDR High School. I played soccer at Greenvale Park with kids from Spackenkill and Wappingers. I played Town of Poughkeepsie Baseball with kids from Arlington and Lagrange. I took music lessons at Dutchess Community College. I was exposed to so many demographics and kinds of people; IBM’ers, inner-city residents, rural folk, and the suburbanites. I received so many different perspectives and made connections everywhere. That heavily influenced how I’ve been able to respond and connect with people.
Growing up, I didn’t realize how much fun Poughkeepsie is because it is a college town. When I was younger, I did not think much of the fact that I was surrounded by four esteemed colleges- Dutchess, Marist, Vassar, and the Culinary. Since getting to travel for business, education, music, and pleasure, I’ve noticed how much energy our area has compared to some other places. There are so many community activities led or hosted by the colleges. Events like theatre, concerts, sporting events, markets, and more. I became inspired to be a theatre actor after seeing a student perform “You Got Trouble” from The Music Man at a revue at DCC. I found my love for watching football and basketball in the stands of Marist games. I would fall into the holiday season at the Christmas concerts held in the church at Vassar. Not just within the colleges, but there is decent nightlife along the riverfront because of the youthful energy circulating through town. Being twenty-four, I’m just now discovering some of the wonders of going out on the town. A couple of weeks ago, I danced all night in Mahoney’s, and I’m met up with a friend I’ve hardly talked to in years over at Schatzi's for a drink and to catch up. Restaurants and stores typically stay open later than other areas. It wasn’t until college that I realized that not all McDonalds’ were 24/7 like the one in the Home Depot Plaza, which is only 3 minutes away from me.
Poughkeepsie's Natural Beauty
If there is one thing that I would ever brag to others about in regards to Poughkeepsie is its natural beauty and all the views. As I’ve gotten older, the more I’ve gotten into hiking. There are so many great trails to go to in Poughkeepsie, whether it be the Rail Trail, or in neighboring areas like the mansions in Hyde Park or something along those lines. When the leaves start changing over the mountains in the Fall, as we just witnessed, there are fewer things more pleasing to the eyes. Regardless of wherever I have traveled, I have never seen a more beautiful sky than I have here in Poughkeepsie. No cloud
formation, no sunrise or sunset have ever topped how magnificent it can get here. I attribute that to the river. The Hudson is so key to this area, and it is so key to me. Many nights, I would walk, run, or drive down to the river- whether that be Quiet Cove, Waryas Park, or the Marist Boat Dock- and watch the sun set. I would skip rocks on a pier, or sit and take in the sound of the waves. It can be so peaceful, so meditative. Many times, it kept me going when things felt toughest.
Opportunities Are Waiting
In regards to opportunities, as I mentioned before, I thought I had used up all that the area had to offer me. I was wrong. Since moving back home, I got to be involved in a few music video shoots- including one in Cold Spring and one in Kingston. I have had the ability to play in several music festivals as they started to open back up after Covid. I discovered new open mics, and have met so many incredible musicians who continue to inspire me. I’ve had the privilege to be a background actor and stand-in for HBO Max’s Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin series which is shooting in Saugerties. I've gotten to collaborate with longtime friends on a podcast series where we stretched our creative writing and production abilities to new lengths. And finally, I stumbled upon this job here at Townsquare Media. I have passed this station hundreds of thousands of times, and have listened to WPDH, WRRV, The Wolf, and WKXP Lite FM for years. It is so surreal to now be in the building, work with all these tremendous people, and now get to be one of the voices for the Hudson Valley. The problem wasn’t that there were no opportunities for me left in the area, I was shutting myself off from the possibility that there was more to be found.
My Biggest Fans
Lastly, I am so thankful for my parents. My dad, who was raised in Cornwall and New Windsor, and my mom, who was raised in Fishkill, are the biggest supporters I could ever have. They have stuck by me and my dream of working in entertainment ever since I showed interest in the arts. Without their countless days off work, all the rides to and from after school activities, all the help with homework, all the late nights, all the times they showed up to my games and shows, and everything else in between, I wouldn’t be where I am and who I am today. Despite how difficult things can get at times, they never lost sight of supporting me in my endeavors. For that, I am forever grateful.
As things continue to open back up, and with the spirit of the holidays all around us, I’m sure there will be plenty more to discover and fall in love with all over again. It’s in the little things here in Poughkeepsie that make such a difference. I once thought that returning to Poughkeepsie would be a death sentence. Instead, I remember that this is the place that raised me and inspired me, and I know it will continue to inspire great memories and opportunities to come.