After nearly a year of anticipation, the "mane event" of Sherman Day came to pass as mayor John R. Patterson's hair was shaved from his head.
Community members gathered around at 2:30 p.m. Saturday to take part in the culmination of the "Shave-the-Mayor" campaign. The mayor grew his hair for a year and tickets were sold for a chance take trimmers in hand and help cut it off. Most of the money raised will be donated to Roswell Park Institute Cancer Research Center.
Patterson's locks were plenty long as the day drew near. But three days before the event, he had it dyed bright pink. Pink is the color used in cancer awareness and research campaigns, especially breast cancer. It is considered to be representative of health, hope and vibrancy and therefore a symbol of cancer survival.
Photos by David Prenatt
At left, Sherman Mayor John R. Patterson prepares to have his head shaved after having grown his hair for nearly a year and dying it pink for the event. At right, State Senator Cathy Young bid $100 to have the privilege to do the final shaving of the mayor’s head. In total, the “Shave-the-Mayor” event raised over $7,500, according to Patterson. Most of the money raised will be donated to Roswell Park Institute Cancer Research Center
"I'm really going to miss it," Patterson said before the trimmer was switched on. "I've had so many questions about, 'does this bother you?' Well it didn't bother me a bit, but has sure bothered my wife."
Patterson's wife, Sally, who has survived two bouts with breast cancer, agreed. "I'm really glad it's going. Going out to dinner was the hardest part," she said with a laugh. "I threatened him. I said. From now on, when we go to dinner, you go to that restaurant and I'll go to this one."
The crowd waited in anticipation as town clerk Ann Gilbert reached into the ticket wheel. As luck or fate would have it, the first person to wield the trimmer was none other than Patterson's son Steve Vinciguerra from Mayville. He was followed by his wife, Teri. Many family members came for the event, including Patterson's 93-year-old father.
The pink locks continued to fall as winner after winner took their turn. Finally there was nothing left of the mayor's hair except stubble. Now it was time to raffle off the opportunity to take a razor and finish the job.
Patterson grinned as challenged those present. "It's gonna take at least 50 dollars to shave my head," he said.
State senator Kathy Young stepped forward. "I'll give you a hundred," she said, and the matter was settled. A little Barbasol, a Bic razor and a bit of help from Kathy Crane and hair stylist Julie Thiem-Davis; and the mayor was bald.
Patterson thanked all who had taken part in the fundraiser and spoke of his personal reasons for doing it. "The second time my wife's cancer came back, it came back nasty. It's a terrible thing to watch someone you love get sicker and sicker and watch their hair fall out. You begin to wonder if the cancer will kill them or the chemotherapy," he said.
"Then last Christmas we got the two-year report and it said complete remission," he said. "That's the best Christmas present I could have gotten."
The fundraiser received a great boost toward the end, Patterson said, when Rob and Lynn Hays, a couple from California who own a cottage on Chautauqua Lake, pledged to match the total amount raised, dollar-for dollar. At the day's end, Patterson estimated that more than $7,500 would be available for donation to Roswell.
"I hope this money we raised today and these past months will go directly to Roswell for cancer research," he said.
Senator Young said she was inspired by the event. "I admire Mayor Patterson for taking on such a worthwhile project," she said. "It's great to see such community spirit and so many people participating. This shows why our communities are so wonderful in Chautauqua County."
When contacted later in the day, Mayor Patterson agreed that the community support was rewarding, but it was the support of his family, especially his wife, Sally, that made it possible. Still, she was glad to see this day arrive.
"My wife really is the happiest girl in the U.S.A now," he said.
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Patterson's wife, Sally, finally gets the chance to cut hair
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Town Clerk Ann Gilbert, who handled much of the "Shave-The-Mayor" campaign was rewarded with a cut