By Mark Keegan
Although we are yet to enjoy Thanksgiving, merchants are already ramping up for The Big One — the Christmas holiday season. The “shop local” campaign resonates strongly in our town leading to a bustling Purchase Street come December.
Surprisingly, the name Purchase Street is not a subtle suggestion to shoppers. One of Rye’s oldest streets dates to John Harrison’s 1695 “purchase” of a large section of Westchester from Native Americans. In doing so, Harrison disregarded Rye’s first European settlers, who laid claim to much of the same land 35 years earlier. Now known as the Town of Harrison, the road to this area from the small hamlet that was Rye was known simply as “the road to Harrison’s purchase” and, eventually, Purchase Street.
Mr. Harrison could not have contemplated the future parking issues on his little path. The scramble for a spot has begun, as anyone who has ventured into town in the afternoon lately knows full well.
The parking drill has become routine for many. Step one: a trip down Purchase Street just to see if it’s your lucky day (no spots, it isn’t). Step two: surrendering to the meters, you cycle through one of the parking lots (nothing). Step three: a gander through another lot (almost got a spot, just missed it). Step four: desperate for a spot, you now engage in “the hover,” awkward parking behavior where you circle the lots wide-eyed like a prowling hawk, even following pedestrians in the hope that they approach a vehicle. If they do, a quick blinker wards off the other cars. Then you wait an average of six minutes as the person in the car toils in oblivion (usually on their phone) before freeing up your well-earned spot.
As you wait those six minutes, below is a holiday favorite adapted to your local shopping adventures that you can sing to keep you sane. Sing proudly shoppers.
<<Purchase Street Parking>> (condensed chorus)
On the first day of Christmas
My true love sent to me:
A parking space that is actually free.
Two parking tickets,
Three fire hydrants,
Four compacts only,
Five magnet things,
Six double parkings,
Seven strollers swerving,
Eight moms a moving,
Nine white Mercedes,
Ten dads a darting,
Eleven pedestrians texting,
Twelve distracted drivers.
Walking never looked so good. Happy holidays and good luck!