ITHACA, N.Y. — News isn’t always doom and gloom. As part of our series of 2018 recaps, we wanted to share a collection of stories that highlights positive news, interesting or offbeat features and fascinating goings-on in Tompkins County. Since the New Year, we have also looked back on stories about development, crime and courts and photos. See those stories here.

Click the image associated with each story to read more.

Ithaca Kitty makes a comeback

The Ithaca Kitty makes its way down the line. (Kelsey O’Connor/The Ithaca Voice)

The storied Ithaca Kitty has had more than nine lives, it seems, making a comeback more than a century after its debut. The History Center in Tompkins County revived the iconic toy from Ithaca’s history, which was first in vogue in the 1890s. The plush cat is modeled after Ithaca feline Caesar Grimalkin, complete with his six toes.

Makerspace open for tinkerers at TCPL

Tompkins County Public Library opened the Makerspace, a workshop complete with tools like 3-D printers and embroidery machines, for Tompkins tinkerers. With group trainings and help from librarians, library-goers can learn to use new technology or use equipment to put the finishing touches on works-in-progress.

Local resident ranks among world’s best in Scottish Highland Games

Courtney McGuire competes in the caber toss. (Provided Photo)

Throwing hammers, stones and telephone pole-sized logs is a strength of local resident Courtney McGuire, who is recognized as one of the best in the world in the old Scottish tradition of the Highland Games. McGuire, of Trumansburg, works in youth programming and recreation at the Greater Ithaca Activities Center. In her spare time, even sometimes on a lunch break, she throws heavy objects of different shapes and sizes — from stones to hefty burlap sacks — to strength train for heavy event competitions. We spoke with McGuire to learn what it takes to become a Highland Games champion.

Tompkins celebrates Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Members of the Cayuga Nation perform a traditional smoke dance at the 2018 First Peoples Festival in Ithaca. (Devon Magliozzi/The Ithaca Voice)

As Tompkins County recognized Indigenous Peoples’ Day for the first time in 2018, we put local indigenous communities’ efforts to rebuild in the spotlight and explored indigenous healing traditions in Newfield.

Kids theater company gets a new home

R2P founder and artistic director Joey Steinhagen shares the plan for a permanent home with the kids and their families. (Provided by R2P)

The Running to Places theater company roamed for a decade before putting down roots this year at the Shops at Ithaca Mall. R2P is made up of kids and teens from all over the county and is making use of its new auditorium space to reach more kids and audience members with its creative productions.

Tracking down a pig on the Black Diamond Trail

Readers went hog-wild over a story about an allegedly wild hog, though it turned out the pig spotted on the Black Diamond Trail was merely an escaped potbelly. Following a tip suggesting the animal was a feral pig, we spoke to wildlife experts to confirm that it was in fact a harmless pet out for an unauthorized stroll.

‘Black girl alchemists’ celebrate Southside history

The UNITED dance group performs “Black Love” at the “African Americans in Ithaca” forum. (Devon Magliozzi/The Ithaca Voice)

Southside Community Center came together with the History Center of Tompkins County to celebrate the Southside neighborhood’s history as a hub of Ithaca’s black community. The African Americans in Ithaca weekend forum featured dance performances, speaker panels and a demonstration of the HistoryForge historical mapping app.

The growth of Finger Lakes wine

New York wine featured at Cellar d’Or on the Ithaca Commons. (Photo by Jacob Mroczek/The Ithaca Voice)

While 2018 was a wet year for grape growers in the area, it was a great year for the Finger Lakes area’s past vintages. As Finger Lakes wines climbed in national rankings, we explored facets of the industry from farming to fermenting and bottling with an expert from Cornell’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva.

A purr-fect way to lift one’s spirits

What’s more heartwarming than a photo gallery of adorable kittens? A cafe full of them. The Alley Cat Cafe opened its doors downtown in June, giving patrons a chance to play with cats and also enjoy a vegetarian meal.

Sharing spooky stories

Ithacans are spooked about plenty in the present-day, but we dove into the city’s past to uncover some of the stories that have haunted locals for over a century. From mysterious disappearances to acts of revenge, these grisly tales aren’t exactly heartwarming, but highlighted the city’s colorful history this Halloween.

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.