Forty years removed, it’s still evident if you think about it — despite all the death, destruction and jokes, Buffalonians enjoyed the Blizzard of ’77.
On the storm’s first anniversary, University at Buffalo researcher Arthur G. Cryns released a report that outlined the results of a detailed survey of 104 random Western New Yorkers.
By now this anniversary week, you’ve become reacquainted with the numbers. There were at least 23 deaths, 13,000 people were stranded away from home and 175,000 workers lost $36 million in wages.
“The blizzard furnished a considerable proportion of area residents with a welcome reprieve from the routines and obligations of everyday life,” Cryns told the Associated Press in 1978. “Others found occasion in the storm to celebrate and have a good time.”
Cryns’ survey also found that while Buffalonians still held a generally positive outlook on area weather, it was also clear that most people would be more cautious and more vigilant for future predictions of snow emergencies. That prediction has proved true.
The survey might now even have been necessary, as on that first anniversary of the blizzard, Buffalo held the first Blizzard Ball.
Allentown antiques and art dealer Bill Eaton was one of the founders of the Blizzard Ball, which ran for every year for a decade and a few later anniversaries of the storm as well.
“Maybe the blizzard was lousy for business and plenty of other things, but it brought out fellowship in the people of Buffalo,” Eaton told The News in 1978. “Most of us had fun. Got to know one another better.”
Exactly two weeks after the blizzard had started, an editorial in the Buffalo Evening News wrapped it up this way:
“The fact remains that the people of this area were put to an extremely rugged test, which they passed with courage, character and good humor. And that, too, ought to become a permanent part of the Buffalo legend and image associated with the Blizzard of ’77.”