The NOW Generation, an organization for young Chautauquans, hosted its second annual Summerfest last Saturday at the Youth Activities Center.
Muhammad Ali standing over Sonny Liston. The Red Sox finally breaking the Curse of the Bambino. Hulk Hogan body slamming Andre the Giant. All are great moments in sports. But none compare to the spectacle witnessed last Tuesday at the Youth Activity Center’s bubble gum bubble-blowing contest.
Fourteen kids gather around the ping-pong table. The gum of choice is cotton candy-flavored Bubble Yum — an odd choice given its high sugar content, which may affect the size and shape of the bubbles. The competitors are unfazed, aware of the high level of honor at stake. On the sidelines, spectators tap at their phones or eat Fla-Vor-Ice, unaware of what they are about to witness.
The start of the contest is announced. Several competitors cry foul — evidently, they need more time for the saliva to fully soak into their gum and create the ideal bubble-blowing texture. It is not a sign of weakness on their parts, merely a recognition of the scientific fact that salivary glands differ from mouth to mouth — especially among adolescents.
In the darkest days of winter, when the dog refuses to go outside and the car is encrusted with brown ice, the Chautauqua Season seems like an impossible dream, the one gift that is too much to ask for.
Congratulations. Your gift has arrived.
On your first evening stroll, it seems that everything on the grounds is just where you left it. That is part of what draws people back year after year. If this is your first visit, you may feel awash in a strange nostalgic déjà vu, as if you have been here in another life.
When Donna Sorensen and her late husband, Andrew, asked their sons how they wanted to give back to Chautauqua, the Sorensen boys were unanimous in their decision to support the Youth Activities Center.
In 1985, the Sorensens established the Youth Activities Center Endowment to support the facility that their sons, Aaron and Ben, used often during their time growing up at Chautauqua.
“It’s a place where kids can meet other kids and begin building relationships that will bring them back to Chautauqua for future summers,” Ben said.