Stop if you’ve read this story before. Actually, don’t: You have read this story before. But read on anyway …
Long lines mark opening day at Jumpin’ Jack’s could be the headline. It was in The Daily Gazette in 2013. It could have been again today. Or in 2010. Or 1990. Or …
The annual reopening of the landmark Scotia drive-in on the still-icy banks of the Mohawk River is unchanging, wnwavering … and still draws a healthy media contingent every year. With the exception of the post-Irene flooding opening of 2012, the same story works, regardless the year.
The snaking line of mostly high school kids, some in parkas, others in hoodies and still others in just T-shirts? Check. Camera people jockeying for position to capture the first burger of the season served? Of course. Owner Mark Lansing Sr. doing a stand-up interview out front? Mandatory.
Lansing has done these interviews “as long as I can remember. Everybody is after us, especially opening day. It’s part of a tradition.”
And Lansing has no problem answering the same questions year after year, about how great it is to be back open, about the devotion of his staff who come back to work year after year, about — whaddya know? — the long line waiting for the first burgers.
“It’s news,” he said as a Time Warner Cable news truck turned into the parking lot. “We’ve been doing it since 1952. It never gets old.”
Neither does the perennial New Year’s baby story, or the opening day of Saratoga Race Course story, or the Holiday Parade features. Like Groundhog Day, these stories serve to mark the calendar and the passage of seasons into years, year after year.
Paul Conti, an assistant professor of communications at The College of Saint Rose, would dispatch reporters to such annual events when he served for more than two decades as assistant news director and news director at WNYT Ch. 13.
“Yeah, and I covered the track all the time, too,” he said. “And I hated myself for it.
“I understand they are big events. I understand a lot of people go. But is it news? Ehhhh … what’s new? I’m not sure it’s news.”
But there is a reader/viewer expectation for these stories.
“You get feedback from readers if you are not at an event,” Gazette Editor Judith S. Patrick said. “There are certainly stories we cover every year because of the content.”
So here is your annual Long lines mark opening day at Jumpin’ Jack’s story. For the record, Lizzy Kenific, a 14-year-old freshman from Scotia, was first in line, just like last year. She has been at or near the front the past four years. How often has she been interviewed?
“All four times,” she said.
Lansing will welcome her and other customers and his employees and, yes, the media back again in 2015. Maybe there will be a story then that hasn’t been told yet.
“I hope so,” he said. “I hope there is one to tell.”
Either way, reporters will assuredly be on hand to find out.