ITHACA, NY – Plagued by celebrity deaths, and turmoil at home and abroad, by the year’s end many Ithacans were plenty happy to bid goodbye and good riddance to 2016.

But it wasn’t all bad! We’ve handpicked our top Ithaca feel-good stories from the previous year to get 2017 off on the right foot.

5. Ithaca is smart

Home to two world-class universities, Ithaca is proud of our collective brain-power for good reason.

Last year, the U.S. News and World Report also named Ithaca High School and Dryden High School among the best in the state, ranking at No. 53 and 188 respectively, with gold and silver medals.

(Not to mention, we now have 12 year old studying applied and engineering physics at Cornell University, and Ithaca College moved up in rankings this year.)

4. Ithaca is delicious

It’s oft-quoted that Ithaca has more restaurants per capita than New York City, but are they good restaurants? According to multiple rankings last year, you bet!

It’s no surprise that Ithaca was named one of the most vegetarian-friendly cities, third on a list of cities by (The rankings were calculated by offering the most number of vegetarian restaurants per 100, 000 people: according to their website, Ithaca has 17 with plentiful meat-free options.)

Ithaca also had two eateries in the running for best burger, and had a restaurant ranked among the top grossing pizzerias in the nation for third year in a row.

3. Ithaca is brave

This list simply would not be complete with mentioning Ithaca’s beloved Officer Colin, whose bravery, and superb sense of humor, have brightened our spirits since he was sworn in as an Honorary Ithaca Police Officer on September 12.
9-year-old Colin Toland, a student at Northeast Elementary School, has been battling brain cancer for years. But all fall and winter, he shared safety tips for kids, kicked off community events, held meet and greets. Capping off the year, he even got to make his first arrest (the Grinch, who did not steal Christmas thanks to Officer Colin).

2. Ithaca is magical

In 2015, news of a small Harry Potter-themed event in Press Bay Alley around Halloween spread faster than a swooping hippogriff. The result: over 10,000 visitors, and a community coming together to pull of some seriously large-scale magic to transform Downtown Ithaca almost overnight.

The successful second Ithaca Wizarding Weekend cemented the event as a new annual tradition, with local businesses (The Ithaca Voice included) prepping for months rather than days to host the festival.

And if once a year wasn’t enough to get your witch on, there’s also an annual Night at Hogwarts dinner held in Cornell’s Risley,  and you can stop by Cornell’s Kroch Library to view its witchcraft collection year-round.

1. Ithaca is crunchy

In 2016, Ithaca earned its rightful place as the most hippie town in New York, according to Thrillist, shocking exactly no one, except Mayor Svante Myrick.

“This is an outrage,” he wrote. “I intend to challenge this. The facts are wrong and misleading. Ithaca is not the hippiest town in New York. Ithaca is the hippiest town in America.”

Last year Ithacans even tried to out-Ithaca each other, escalating into a playful competition of hippier-than-thou.

The winner in our opinion, posted by Oliver St. John: I’m so Ithaca that I won’t be even slightly surprised if I see these comments printed up in an upcoming Ithaca Voice post.”

Jennifer Wholey

Jennifer Wholey is a feature writer and Head of Dining Partnerships for the Ithaca Voice. Contact her at