Lou Cassaniti's annual Hot Dog Day for Tompkins SPCA will be at Press Bay Alley this Friday

May 7, 2015 by Mark H. Anbinder

It's an annual tradition, and this year's Hot Dogs for Dogs fundraiser will take place at Press Bay Alley, on West Green Street in Downtown Ithaca. The event is 11am-3pm on Friday, May 8th.

Lou Cassaniti's familiar spot in Bank Alley.Lou Cassaniti's familiar spot in Bank Alley.The SPCA says Hot Dog Day dates back fourteen years, with Lou Cassaniti's hot dog stand grilling up hot dogs and vegetarian "not dogs," typically raising over $3,000 each year on a Friday in early May. Since construction on the Commons has made Lou's usual Bank Alley location unavailable, he's been operating at Madeline's Restaurant off and on, and this year is at Press Bay Alley. SPCA staff and volunteers will be on hand with dogs and cats available for adoption.

SPCA of Tompkins County director Jim Bouderau says proceeds raised at this year's Hot Dog Day will count towards a $50,000 challenge match that's running through the end of May. "We are not government-funded," he says. "We rely on the generosity of this community, and their belief in our mission, to make the work we do possible."

Bouderau says the summer months are usually the organization's busiest, and bringing in funds now is crucial to the SPCA's work. The SPCA does receive funds from local government budgets, but as payment for services provided to those municipalities, such as animal control and spay/neuter programs, not as grants or operational support.

Press Bay Alley photo courtesy Downtown Ithaca.Press Bay Alley photo courtesy Downtown Ithaca.Press Bay Alley is a row of "micro-retail" spaces that opened last summer, southwest of the Ithaca Commons, adjacent to the former Ithaca Journal press facility. Next to Life's So Sweet Chocolates, the facility, with 188 square foot and 376 square foot units available, offers an easy start-up environment for small retail businesses such as Amuse: Modern Cottage Industry. 

The area has been under-used since the Ithaca Journal closed its press facility in 2006, but until then the bay was used for decades by delivery trucks and newspaper carriers loading up stacks of newspapers. Most of the Ithaca Journal's operations are now handled in other Gannett newspaper facilities in the region, such as Binghamton's Press & Sun Bulletin. The adjacent parking lot has been used the last couple of years as the Beer Garden stage at the Ithaca Festival.

Press Bay owner John Guttridge says the new Press Café will open this Friday at 8am, and will be open limited hours, mostly mornings, while they train their staff.

Anyone who'd like to donate to the SPCA can make a secure online gift toward the challenge at spcaonline.com by clicking the "Donate Now" graphic, can mail a check to the SPCA at 1640 Hanshaw Road, Ithaca, New York 14850, call 607-257-1822, or visit either the shelter or the SPCA Annex at the Shops at Ithaca Mall.

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