Lighting the Way: Beacon Brightens Up | Community Pages | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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Lighting the Way: Beacon Brightens Up 

Last Updated: 08/13/2013 3:52 pm

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Both younger and older crowds lounge in laid-back cafes like ZuZu’s and Muddy Cup, enjoying free Internet, comfortable chairs, loose teas and Scrabble. Live music and cozy bar scenes have emerged, with establishments like Max’s on Main, The Piggy Bank, Chill Wine Bar, and Joe’s Irish Pub, offering the shows of budding and experienced musicians. And for those who are not weekend warriors, yoga, meditation, and classes and lectures on a variety of subjects are part of Beacon’s bounty as well. Real estate has not been left out of the equation. Posh apartment buildings have been renovated and erected along the east end of Main Street, above clothing boutiques, restaurants, and artisan shops. To top it off, the location of a world-class scientific facility—The Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries—since 2004 has furthered the cutting-edge reputation of the city.

So, what now? Despite the country’s obsession with that played out R-word, current Beacon Mayor Steve Gold sees a bright future for the town, as well as a fairly good-looking present.

“One of the reasons Beacon is strong in spite of this economy is because when Beacon was a depressed city and Main Street was just beginning to see new life through antique stores, organizations like the Beacon Business Association formed in an effort to put on programs to attract more people. And they became good at doing just that,” the mayor says, adding that along with art attractions, Beacon has beefed up its culinary industry, as well as its offering of special events like its trademark hat parade. The fifth annual Beacon Hat Parade will take place on June 6, traveling east along Main Street. The following day, June 7, as part of this year’s quadricentennial activities celebrating Henry Hudson’s voyage in 1609, the tall ships of the quadricentennial flotilla will be docked at Beacon Point Park, with live music, dancing, and storytelling by the water.

Old & New
Iarossi says that the new Beacon looks nothing like the one he saw when he first moved here. According to Iarossi, who owns Kringle’s Christmas House on Main Street, the motivation for business owners to put in the sweat of reviving Main Street was simple. “Your Main Street is the backbone of your community and if your Main Street isn’t good, your community isn’t good,” Iarossi says. He credits the cooperative attitudes of tightly knit business owners, the current mayor, and former Mayor Clara Lou Gould for making the strength of Beacon’s Main Street a priority. “Nobody said afterward, ‘It was my idea.’ Nobody took credit for everything. Nothing was politics,” Iarossi recalls.

The town also continues to see a growing population of new citizens, moving in primarily from urban areas. Scott Tillitt, a Brooklyn expatriate, says that he and his wife moved to Beacon after she fell in love with the coffeehouses and the health food store—Beacon Natural Market­—on Main Street, among other things. Tillitt’s wife, Andrea Ramirez, is a Beacon entrepreneur herself, having began True Nourishment, a service through which she offers holistic health counseling to professional women. Tillitt never visited Beacon before moving to the town. He says he “just sort of heard the buzz that everyone had heard.”

“More and more people like ourselves are coming here. More and more people are escaping the city,” Tillitt explains. “It seems like people are looking for community.” He has taken his search for community in Beacon one step further. He has started Beahive, a “coworking space,” or shared office for independent workers. “We offer shared workspace for these people who are tired of working from home and want the camaraderie of having people around,” says Tillitt. Those who have already expressed interest in participating in the project include designers, technology programmers, professionals in the public relations and marketing fields, and various consultants. Tillitt says it is this diversity of professions that will contribute to Beahive’s second purpose.

“You can collaborate on your own projects together but also we’ll collaborate on projects for Beacon, for the town,” Tillitt explains. “It’s a community of people who want to improve our personal lives, our professional lives, and our community.” Tillitt mentions that along with planning entertainment events, he also hopes to bring back a town newspaper.

According to the inventive PR consultant, Beahive has substantial potential because of the flurry of creative sparks that he has seen developing in his new hometown, particularly from those moving in. “People are bringing that culture and the energy that New York provides and they’re bringing it here and focusing that energy on a smaller scale in Beacon,” says Tillitt.

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