The Guardian, the Crime Victims Memorial and other tucked away gems in Highland Park

miss New york cropped for article

Hannah Lopa, Miss New York. Lilac Festival parade. 5/13/17

That’s Spencerport’s Hannah Lopa, not The Guardian or the Monroe County Crime Victims Memorial which was dedicated 16 years ago today. Hannah is click bait for a look at some of the less well known gems in Highland Park.



At the parade and over the course of the festival, tens of thousands will meander through Highland Park.  Much of the park is well treaded territory as tourists and Rochesterians know of sites like the Sunken Gardens, the Conservatory and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.


What many will miss are some tucked away pleasures in the area below the Vietnam Memorial and in the wooded copse next to what used to be the Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Surrounded by trees, the slender Guardian statue can easily be missed.

The statue is in the center of the AIDS Remembrance Garden, a poignant reminder of its victims.aids

On the edges of the garden and looking out at The Guardian are several benches. One given anonymously to All Those Who Cared.

threshol;dguardian ench to all those who caredTo all those who cared

Also in the AIDS Remembrance Garden is a lush Weeping Spruce.spruceweeping spruce

More prominent but still less traveled is the Monroe County Crime Victims Memorial and pond.  This year the Memorial has special meaning as up the hill and across the street on South Avenue business owner Charlotte Lahr was murdered during a robbery. At Saturday’s parade, floats passed the store that still has its own homemade memorial. See Charlotte Lahr (1970 – 2017)memorial


A float passing Charlotte Lahr’s business. Lilac Festival parade, 5/13/17. See Charlotte Lahr (1970 – 2017)

Next to the pond is a bench donated by Home Depot, that — apparently — was discovered by neglectful festival goers.home depot

Further down is a wooded area that is mostly kept in its natural state in contrast to the rest of the carefully and well manicured park. You can find a bird feeder that is periodically filled with seeds.bird feeder

If you poke around in the brush, you can find some tagged wooded area chinese witch hazel

The copse is known for its wooden benches, especially the one placed beneath a canopy of trees.

less well used bench

One of the two benches.

bench afar

During the festival, the bench is a favorite spot for workers. Dave and Haley from Bradford, PA discovered the bench a few years ago. They like to come down from the festival hubub for a quite smoke.

Dave and Haley

Dave and Haley from Bradford, PA in town to work at the festival.

This young man and his friends (who chose not to be pictured) know this part of the park well. They biked over and stopped for a vape.second guy

Based on debris and paraphernalia left occasionally on the bench, it appears to be a place of earthly pleasures. Evidence suggests the horizontal bench has been the site of amore of various permutations.  As testament to their spiritual and earthly devotion, two smitten lovers, AK and MR, carved their initials inside a heart. heart bench


The Lilac Festival and the missing monarch

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial of Greater Rochester: A Meditation on the Cost of War