Saturday, 15 February 2014 16:18

Fred Ungar, Unofficial Oswegonian and Official `Punxsutawney Phil` Fan Club Member

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Fred Ungar, Unofficial Oswegonian and Official `Punxsutawney Phil` Fan Club Member Submitted photo

Right before Groundhog Day 2014, Marty Barrett from the Merriam Barrett Guest House bed and breakfast in Oswego called to say that they had a longtime guest, now friend, named Fred Ungar that was visiting the power station here. Then Marty told me that he had an unusual hobby. So, dropped in on them at the guest house and did a fun interview with Fred...

IHO: What brings you to Oswego, Fred?
FRED: I am a supplier of products and services to the Nuclear Power Plant operated by Constellation. Constellation is one of the finest employers in Oswego.

IHO: How often do you visit Oswego?
FRED: My goal is to visit each of my customers at a minimum of once per quarter. I get teased in Oswego for being the only representative brave enough to visit during Oswego winters. I am from Pennsylvania and we get snow but Oswego seems to handle it so much better. The most amazing thing is that businesses are open in the worst Oswego weather and I was surprised to find I could get pizza delivered in 10 feet of snowfall!

Fred Ungar 360x640IHO: When you visit Oswego, where do you stay?
FRED: I travel constantly, stay in hotels and I always look forward to my trips to Oswego, NY where I exclusively stay at the Merriam Barrett Guest House. It's like staying with family, only better. I get fed well and have on occasion brought food to Marty and Brian to try. I would not stay anywhere else.

IHO: What is your favorite breakfast item here at the Guest House?
FRED: Anything that Brian makes is outstanding and I look forward to being surprised when leaving as there is always a care package of muffins or other baked goodness for the next leg of my trip.

IHO: What is a typical experience here at Merriam Barrett Guest House?
FRED: Last night I went to dinner at the Old City Hall, Water Street Cafe (as recommended by, I had the recommended Open Face Steak, which was as delicious as described. I remarked to my college that upon returning to the guest house there would be a treat waiting for us on plates, ready to eat. Sure enough, when we arrived there were two pieces of Brian's famous coconut crème pie waiting for us. It was an outstanding end to a great meal.

IHO: What are the MUST SEE and MUST DO's for you while in Oswego?
FRED: Harbor Towne Gift Shop (a great place to get gifts for my grand daughter), Honey Crullers at Tim Horton's, Real Deals, Rudy's for a Coney Hot, PJ's for an ice cream (seasonal), Canale's for pasta with friends and Wades Diner. I have been to Harborfest four times and twice to Pumpkinfest; I have made Oswego my home away from home.

IHO: Is there anything you miss that is no longer available in Oswego?
FRED: Most definitely, I really miss the 1850 House and the cast of characters that ran the restaurant; what a unique experience it was to be there.

IHO: Oswego is famous for our sunsets, where is your favorite place to view them?
FRED: I would have to say the view from Rudy's and Bev's on the loop but anywhere you see them, it's a great view!

IHO: Is there any place in Oswego that has tugged your hearstrings?
FRED: Yes. Being of Jewish descent, through Mary's direction I found Safe Haven. I took the tour and bought the movie, what a great story of how Oswego embraced the refugees; how fortunate Oswego is to have such rich history.

Vignette 360x640IHO: We know you are from PA. and that you are involved somehow with Ground Hog Day in Punxsutawny, PA. so tell us more.
FRED: A group of us have been attending The Ground Hog Day event since 2002. It started out as a friends birthday present but almost immediately turned into a tradition. Recently we made it official by starting our own official chapter membership of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club known as "Phil's Phaithful Phun-Loving Phriends Phrom Philly". In 2013, the event broke it's record and hosted over 40,000 people for this one day event. Our official club chapter dresses for and attends the pre-event on the night before Groundhog Day and attend the entertainment all night long, have breakfast at about 3AM and then head up to Gobbler's Hill to watch the fireworks a bonfire and then, at dawn, Phil's handler will then "talk" to Phil and give the official proclamation of Punxsutawney Phil's shadow or lack thereof. If Phil sees his shadow, we'll have 6 more weeks of winter, if not, Spring is around the corner.

IHO: Well thank you Fred, we are certainly glad that you are a part of our Oswego extended family and thank you for sharing your memories and story! And thank you to Marty and Brian Barrett for opening the Guest House to for this interview!

According to the official website, Phil is never wrong...but sometimes his handler has misinterpreted what Phil has said! This year Phil has predicted 6 more weeks of Winter...thanks alot Phil!

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