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I rang in the New Year in Times Square. Just two nights later, my Father and I stepped on to the ice after the Sabres beat the Rangers inside Madison Square Garden.

Yeah 2017 is off to a pretty solid start.

So one of my Dad’s good friends from back home in Niagara Falls is this guy named Ron DeFazio. Ron is a little older than Ralph Sr. and the owner of my Dad’s go-to watering hole, a venerable spot called Stadium Grill on Hyde Park Boulevard. Now even though he lives and works in Western New York, Mr. D is a life-long New York Rangers fan.

And he’s never been to Madison Square Garden. Period. Not even for a non-hockey event.

A few months ago, my Dad and his buddies were at the bar and they decided that it was time for Mr. D to see the Blueshirts on Broadway, especially with Ralph Jr. (me) working literally above MSG.


I made a few calls and scored us tickets to see the Rangers, who conveniently enough were playing the Sabres on January 3. The men booked their travel accommodations and those few months passed in seemingly a few days; next thing you know I’m hanging out with my Dad, my cousin Mike Hooper, Paul Parise and Mr. D inside Smith’s in Hell’s Kitchen. We did a bit of bar-hopping on Monday night with stops at Rudy’s and Jimmy’s Corner. Then on Tuesday, we started off the evening with happy hour at the Oyster Bar followed by a beer at Stout, a tour of the radio station and then a trip downstairs to The World’s Most Famous Arena.


Thanks to my friends at MSG Networks we were able to get Mr. D’s name on Gardenvision during the first period. Then my friend Nicole hooked up this once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity after the game.

The Sabres ended up beating the Rangers to Mr. D’s chagrin but regardless, it turned out to be a trip that none of us will ever forget.

Last weekend was of the long variety for me; with an abundance of vacation to use before the end of the year, it won’t be the final time that happens in 2016 either.

It was also the last weekend before I began one of the craziest but also most enjoyable stretches of my year: flying to Los Angeles to cover the “American Music Awards” and then back to New York for the “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.” So I knew that over the course of the three days I needed to find time to rest, run a few errands and work out.


While completing all of the above, I also decided to try something new on Friday night: I got a massage. My buddy Nick is a former massage therapist, so I called him for some advice on where to go and what to look for price-wise. I ended up choosing the performance massage at my local Equinox, which was the perfect way to wind-down from a day that included a 5.6 mile run.


On Saturday I got another run in before hopping aboard NJ Transit to pay Newark a visit. My Sabres were in town to play the Devils and even though I’ve adopted the Devils as my local team (I mean c’mon, they gave me a jersey with my name on it!), I had to show up to support the blue and gold. Yes, New Jersey won but me along with my colleague Dan and his son Justin had a great time at the game. Our seats weren’t too shabby either. Big thanks as always to Kerry and the Prudential Center for having us!

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


The weekend wrapped with, you guessed it, another run – followed by a Football Sunday and a trip to H&M to pick-up a few last-second items for the trip west. It was a very productive weekend, which was perfect, because I had a very busy week waiting for me.

A weird combination of events led to a string of nights out for me. In perhaps the most evident sign that a good time was had: the amount of photos I have from the weekend is scarce. But regardless, here are a few with context.

So when I signed off the air on Friday night, I headed to the East Village. There is a bar there that I’ve been wanting to have a drink at called Kelly’s. The pub positions itself as a “hockey bar” and specifically as a drinking establishment that supports the Buffalo Bills and Sabres along with the Chicago Bulls and Cubs.

Interesting mix, but I didn’t ask questions. The deep fryers stay on late, the Labatt Blue Light is cold and the Sabres were on a west coast trip – meaning the game didn’t start until 10:30p p.m.


Of course I showed up to support my team, and they even won! A great time along with a few chicken wings were had, and I’m looking forward to returning soon. Afterwards, I bounced around the East Village with a friend before making my way back uptown with a pit-stop at a go-to of mine, Jimmy’s Corner. It’s a dive bar in Times Square and it is fantastic.

It also wouldn’t be the last time I visited that spot over the weekend, although I did finally get to meet THE Jimmy.

On Saturday I made a rare appearance in Brooklyn. I ate thai food in Williamsburg with my old college roommate who I hadn’t seen in forever and his girlfriend who I hadn’t seen period. They have dated now for about two-and-a-half years but due to a number of circumstances, namely travel and schedule, I didn’t meet her until Saturday. She was lovely and it was great to catch up with both of them.

Then I literally walked around the corner from the restaurant to a house party my friend was having for her birthday. The plan? Stay for an hour or so, then head back to the East Village because the Sabres were still on the west coast.

What actually happened? I hailed a cab home around 4 a.m.

Sunday I made my way back to Brooklyn (who am I at this point?) to grab dinner with the birthday girl. We ate at this cozy little spot in Brooklyn Heights called Armando’s; the place has been around since the 20’s and Marilyn Monroe and some of the Dodgers were known to hang out there. We left the restaurant just as the Academy Awards were starting; the fine folks at OK! TV invited us to their viewing party in midtown at Refinery Rooftop, so we obliged.


That is the second and final picture that made its way to the Internet from my weekend. Although after the party I did have yet another opportunity to snap a picture in Jimmy’s Corner, but taking pictures in dive bars usually isn’t my style.

Keeping with tradition, I stayed in the city for Thanksgiving and worked, however I took a lengthy vacation around Christmas. By lengthy, we’re talking nine days. Almost a week-and-a-half. I love my family, but it was a bit much.

Nonetheless, it is always nice to return back to Niagara Falls and visit with family and friends that still live in Western New York. I flew out on Sunday the 20 and snapped this shot as the sun was rising over the RFK Bridge.


Rarely does returning back to WNY solely consist of resting, especially around the holidays. But it’s nice when I’m home for events that normally I would have to see on Instagram or hear about after the fact. Example: My very talented niece Taylor had an art showing at a local wine bar in Niagara Falls the night I landed. She is ridiculously talented (you’ll see later) and the place was packed. It was great to be able to not only join family there but support her.


On Monday we had a family dinner with my Mom’s side and on Tuesday my Dad’s favorite bar, DeFazio’s Stadium Grill, had its annual Christmas Party. Here’s me and my cousin Mike.


Yeah, it was a good night! Attending with my Dad has turned in to an annual tradition that hope doesn’t end anytime soon.


Had a chance to spend some quality time with my cousin Anthony on Wednesday. I ran a few errands with him and we grabbed lunch in Lockport – home of course of the Erie Canal.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


V ARTSY as the kids say. Thursday was Christmas Eve aka my favorite meal of the year: The Feast of the Seven Fishes. It’s an Italian thing, and I love it because I want all of the seafood.


Then Santa stopped by. We opened gifts as a family on Friday and then went to my brother’s house for brunch. That’s where my niece, the aforementioned Taylor, gave me this!


How amazing is that?! Her and I both share a love for Coldplay. All-in-all, Santa treated me well.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


It was just great to be able to hang with all of my nieces and nephews.


Saturday was a blur of a day, spent mostly visiting with friends from high school and grade school. Then on Sunday, I headed off to the Carrier Dome to see Syracuse play Texas Southern.


‘Cuse won and I got to see one of my old college roommates and my family that lives there, so it was a solid trip back to Central New York. I kept with the sports scene Monday night, heading to Buffalo to see my Sabres play the Caps. Sadly they lost but it was still nice to get back to the First Niagara Center and see all of the great development happening in downtown Buffalo.


Of course it’s not a trip back to Western New York in December if you don’t have inclement weather.


But soon enough I was back in the air and en route to the city.


Definitely a trip home for the books and a solid way to end my 2015 travels.

So I went back home to Western New York for Christmas.

That’s my nephew Joey rockin’ the Yankees Dugout Jacket that Grampa Ralph bought him. The full Facebook album is here.

simply put, it’s a western new york thing.

when you grow up in or around buffalo, and leave for school or work, you take with you a number of strong convictions, vices, and believes.

the buffalo bills and sabres are your teams; wegmans is your supermarket; real chicken wings are not created equal; bison chip dip is the only chip dip; the goo goo dolls are the best rock band ever; jack kemp was a quarterback first, vice presidential candidate second.

and of course, tim russert was the pride of wny, and the authority on all things of which he spoke. western new yorkers essentially held russert in such high regards for the same reasons that most of america did: he embodied the blue collar mentality that his beloved father, “big russ”, taught him while growing up in south buffalo. russert exhibited this in a number of different fashions – his unparrelled preparation when analysing campaign results or grilling politicians on meet the press, the lack of “gimmick” when on camera – he kept it real and kept it simple.

also, it seems russert’s compassion and charity matched his intellect. you certainly know the type of legacy a man left behind when friends, foes, and collegues alike gather on national tv in the immediate aftermath of his death to credit not only russert the analyst, the journalist – but the father, son, and husband.

as a member of the media and a western new yorker, the passing of tim russert certainly struck a number of cords with me. last night when i took to the air here in northeast pa, i spoke briefly about the tragedy, but mentioned how it certainly put things in perspective – on personal and professional levels.

i have “formal training” in journalism – whatever that means these days to you. of course, i attended the newhouse school of public communications, and dual majored at syracuse university in broadcast journalism and marketing. so for me personally, to see a guy without a communications degree succeed to the level that russert did in television, is a sign that russert really, really knew his stuff. as we’ve learned within’ the past 24 hours, apparently no one did their homework as well as russert.

but added to his accomplishments in television are his contributions to family life in america. his two best selling books certainly brought a new dimension and definition to the father-son relationship in this country. it brings about more sorrow that russert died right before father’s day, after celebrating his son luke’s graduation from boston college.

then again, maybe that’s the way the man above planned it – so we could all remember and celebrate the legacy of tim russert throughout this father’s day weekend. although i know my fellow western new yorkers and many more throughout the country will remember russert for a long time to come, whether we are sharing a special moment with dad or tuning in to political coverage of an election.

or maybe for us buffalonians, cheering on our beloved bills – hoping that tim is talking to the big man about maybe delivering a big win.

simply put, it’s a western new york thing.

when you grow up in or around buffalo, and leave for school or work, you take with you a number of strong convictions, vices, and believes.

the buffalo bills and sabres are your teams; wegmans is your supermarket; real chicken wings are not created equal; bison chip dip is the only chip dip; the goo goo dolls are the best rock band ever; jack kemp was a quarterback first, vice presidential candidate second.

and of course, tim russert was the pride of wny, and the authority on all things of which he spoke. western new yorkers essentially held russert in such high regards for the same reasons that most of america did: he embodied the blue collar mentality that his beloved father, “big russ”, taught him while growing up in south buffalo. russert exhibited this in a number of different fashions – his unparrelled preparation when analysing campaign results or grilling politicians on meet the press, the lack of “gimmick” when on camera – he kept it real and kept it simple.

also, it seems russert’s compassion and charity matched his intellect. you certainly know the type of legacy a man left behind when friends, foes, and collegues alike gather on national tv in the immediate aftermath of his death to credit not only russert the analyst, the journalist – but the father, son, and husband.

as a member of the media and a western new yorker, the passing of tim russert certainly struck a number of cords with me. last night when i took to the air here in northeast pa, i spoke briefly about the tragedy, but mentioned how it certainly put things in perspective – on personal and professional levels.

i have “formal training” in journalism – whatever that means these days to you. of course, i attended the newhouse school of public communications, and dual majored at syracuse university in broadcast journalism and marketing. so for me personally, to see a guy without a communications degree succeed to the level that russert did in television, is a sign that russert really, really knew his stuff. as we’ve learned within’ the past 24 hours, apparently no one did their homework as well as russert.

but added to his accomplishments in television are his contributions to family life in america. his two best selling books certainly brought a new dimension and definition to the father-son relationship in this country. it brings about more sorrow that russert died right before father’s day, after celebrating his son luke’s graduation from boston college.

then again, maybe that’s the way the man above planned it – so we could all remember and celebrate the legacy of tim russert throughout this father’s day weekend. although i know my fellow western new yorkers and many more throughout the country will remember russert for a long time to come, whether we are sharing a special moment with dad or tuning in to political coverage of an election.

or maybe for us buffalonians, cheering on our beloved bills – hoping that tim is talking to the big man about maybe delivering a big win.

wait, a sabres logo on tmz.com? it’s my fellow western new yorker chad michael murray, with 19-year old fiancee in tow, watching our buffalo sabres lose to the penguins on new year’s day.

murray grew up about forty minutes away from me, in good ‘ole wny. holler.
ps – what a downgrade from sophia bush!
wait, a sabres logo on tmz.com? it’s my fellow western new yorker chad michael murray, with 19-year old fiancee in tow, watching our buffalo sabres lose to the penguins on new year’s day.

murray grew up about forty minutes away from me, in good ‘ole wny. holler.
ps – what a downgrade from sophia bush!