By Robyn Ciccone, President
We all love Andes, each of us for different reasons. Our love of Andes is the common thread we share. With its rich history in agriculture, rebellion of unfair tenant practices, encroachment of NYC interests, rumors of resort “take over,” business and individual dreams beaming or falling in and out of the loop, Andes continues to persevere. I believe it is due to the strength of its people.
Just think about the original people who began homesteading Andes, our “Land in the Sky.” Imagine the bold courage and fortitude the settlers possessed to tame this rugged, rocky land that has survived centuries. What drew them here? Was it Andes’ unparalleled beauty, stillness of time, slice-of-heaven serenity, inspiration to build on a dream and feeling of true freedom from the mainstream? Surely it all must have contributed to the pure unspoiled Andes lifestyle we enjoy to this day.
I’ve heard it said that “freedom lies in being bold” and I believe it is true. It is in my DNA to be bold, as part of my diverse family heritage stems from original homesteaders in Jamestown, Virginia: William and Elizabeth Fowler, who traveled across the seas on the Abigail in 1621 and survived unbearable circumstances that most did not. Fast forward to my maternal grandmother and great aunt. In the early 1900s, during an era when women just did not do what they did, they left home, joined the traveling circus as acrobatic “show girls,” traveled all over the country, performing and living out of a small trunk. I still have my grandmother’s “circus trunk.” Our circus family photo collection is intriguing to say the least. My paternal linkage stems from Germany as John Och traveled from Germany to our great country, settled as a fur trapper in upper Michigan and married a native woman from the Ottawa tribe.
Allow me to introduce myself: I am Robyn McBryde Ciccone. (The y in McBryde, my father told me, is the Scottish thread in the family weave.) My husband John and I bought a cabin on Wolf Hollow as a vacation home some years ago. We had visited Andes several times, staying with a friend whose family had been here a generation before. With each visit, the Andes’ energy force drew us in. We fell in love with Andes, its beautiful mountains, and lifestyle. John and I, from New Jersey, stayed longer with each visit, escaping our hectic, successful business life including, among other endeavors, managing our custom ornamental wrought iron railing business that has been in John’s family for over 75 years.
A few years ago we bought 55 Main Street as a renovation project. Last year my husband John professed his love of the town of Andes and his intention to live here full time. I was hooked, too, and happily agreed to make Andes our home. So, we moved here full time, we are all in, in every way. We are still working on 55 Main (open next year as a gourmet coffee bar, boutique, and two airbnbs upstairs).
For the past two years, I got involved in monthly meetings to develop Andes’ economy. It was recently decided by meeting participants to reboot the Andes Chamber of Commerce. Here I am today, settling in retirement with my husband in beautiful Andes, calling upon my DNA boldness once again, to grow the Andes Chamber of Commerce.
The Andes Chamber of Commerce was established in 1972 with the goal of uniting the area businesses and residents for the common good of all, fostering Andes’ economic growth and community unity. Today, to that end we are revitalizing the organization and the following is my vision:
- Develop new membership, creating a strong organization to better Andes overall
- Strengthen networking opportunities for members
- Give all members a voice in the development of the Andes community
- Develop leadership and business educational opportunities for members
- Strengthen and grow customer base by implementing plans for more consistent tourism throughout the year
- Strengthen and grow Andes’ overall profile as a strong, vibrant community in the Catskills area
Membership opportunities are now available and open to all. A Basic membership is $50 per year. A Premium Business membership is $90 per year that includes your business on the Andes website: www.andesnewyork.com. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, call or stop by any time: 845-676-3322, 55 Main Street.
I look forward to hearing from you!