Ithaca, N.Y., March 8, 2012 -- Near perfect weather and a generous school supply giveaway from Staples led to record attendance for Ithaca's annual Winter Recess teachers week. The February event attracted 5,512 participants from 311 cities in 15 states, smashing the prior record of 4,162 participants in 2011.
The weeklong festival, Feb. 17-26, offered Pre-K-12 educators and district employees special events throughout the community, along with discount deals at dozens of area businesses. The 2012 program included 92 events, with retail, dining and lodging incentives at 217 Ithaca-area businesses.
Tompkins County residents represented 55 percent of attendees. Out-of-county visitors came from all parts of New York and 14 outlying states, some as far away as Colorado.
Participants took in a variety of activities including spa parties, wine touring, college events, concerts and more. The Downtown Chili Cook-off, Discovery Trail and Cayuga Wine Trail were among the most popular destinations for teachers and their families. Food and beverage deals at Maxie’s Supper Club, The Boatyard Grill and Corks & More were tops for dining.
Area hotels and B&Bs hosted 505 visiting educators and family members during the week, generating 366 overnight stays, a 13.7 percent increase from 2011.
“We expected attendance growth this year, but not 32-percent,” said Fred Bonn, director of the Ithaca/Tompkins Convention & Visitors Bureau, the event coordinator. “It’s a credit to all the organizations that participated and made the event so attractive, particularly Staples. Teachers told us repeatedly how wonderful it was to be celebrated by a whole town. It’s a real tribute to the greater Ithaca community.”
Since its inception in 2007, teachers week has become a highlight of the local winter calendar. In six years, more than 20,000 educators and family members have taken part.
“We’re thrilled at the response from teachers, the incredible support from local businesses and the positive impact this has on the overall community,” Bonn said. “This event really celebrates what our community is all about. It’s a winner on every level.”
Winter Recess remains the nation’s only community-wide festival celebrating classroom educators. It’s held annually during the President’s Week school break. Dates for the 2013 edition are Feb. 15-24.