Photo by Tyler Bernadyn

When I sat down to write this editorial, I honestly had no clue where to start. For many of us, this past year has been a whirlwind, to say the least. Personally, 2016 was a year that marked a lot of change in my life, both good and bad. I was able to travel and craft new experiences in new places with new friends. This year, I also lost some friends and some people that were very close to me. That’s the cycle of life and as I grow older, the more I’m starting to understand it. As this December comes to a close, I decided to write a summation of 2016 from my perspective and reflect on the year that was…

To say that 2016 was an anomaly would be an understatement. We saw the Chicago Cubs win a World Series, Donald Trump get elected as President of the United States, a trend of creeps wearing killer clown costumes ravage neighborhoods across the country, a gorilla named Harambe become a national figure and the list goes on… This year we saw some of our most beloved and respected athletes, musicians, political figures and celebrities pass away from this life including Carrie Fisher, whom was my first crush after watching the original Star Wars trilogy when I was a boy.

In our community, we saw a favorite like the Atlantic Beach Club shut their doors for the final time. We saw long time staples close and new businesses open. Even in the past month, liquor licenses around town are being swapped like a game of ‘hot potato.’

The restaurant industry in general is always fluctuating. New trends, styles and products dictate how a restaurant operates in order to be successful. Change is a good thing and something that we should embrace, especially when it comes to new opportunities. Believe it or not, the shelf life of restaurants is shorter than almost every other business model, with over seventy percent of new establishments closing within three to five years. That’s why it’s so important to allow this industry to proceed and develop, especially here in Newport. Tip your cap to your favorites and continue to support them while remembering to give the new spots a try.

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2016 marked one of the most financially successful summers for Newport. Tourism is booming, and our city has quickly become a ‘wedding Mecca’ for New England nuptials. We were blessed with amazing weather all summer long and the fall wasn’t half bad either. It’s December 30th, and I’m taking my scooter for a spin later this afternoon. Restaurants, shops, beaches, sailing charters and other businesses benefitted from the ’75 & sunny’ summer we enjoyed and we should be looking forward to what 2017 holds in store for our home. With the Broadway project pretty much finished and more press popping up every day about our community, Newport is trending in the right direction, and I know I’m excited to be on board and ride that wave.

The polar plunge on New Years Day is often highlighted in communities to raise money or awareness for a particular cause, however, it also has an underlying meaning for many. Although it’s an awesome way to cure your hangover from the night before, it also acts as a cleanse if you consider it so. By running into ice cold water, we are washing away 2016 and starting fresh in the new year. Like a child at a baptism, water is a symbol of purity, and many people use the plunge to wash off their trials and tribulations from the year before. I’ll most likely be using this year’s plunge for all the reasons aforementioned as well as a guaranteed way to wake up from a New Years Eve double before my New Years Day shift…

Although there are so many great memories we leave behind in 2016, there’s so many more that lie ahead of us this coming year. The “new year, new me” mantra has become a running joke to many but the importance of that statement still rings true. If you’re shooting for a resolution or just aiming to better yourself in 2017, stick to it and support those who are trying to do the same. Instead of chuckling at all the ‘newbies’ at the gym, help their get acquainted and feel welcome. If you say you’re going to make a better effort to keep in touch with friends and family, follow through with it. Even if you make a New Year’s resolution to read more, pick up a goddamn book and get to it. Change and self-improvement start with you and you alone, but it never hurts to help others.

This holiday season, I watched grown adults get in an argument over whether it was right or wrong to say Merry Christmas to someone. Honestly, who really cares that much? If you celebrate Hanukah, say Happy Hanukah. If you celebrate Kwanza, say Happy Kwanzaa. If you’re a devoted Seinfeld fan, say Happy Festivus. If you celebrate Christmas, say Merry Christmas. If you don’t care and want to wrap them all up into one and get New Years out of the way while you’re at it, say Happy Holidays. People make too big of a deal these days about these things, regardless of what side they’re supporting. Whether you’re advocating for political correctness or ‘bringing Christmas back,’ just don’t be an ass and be nice to others, simple as that.

Never before have we lived in a world that was so connected socially but so far apart societally. With the recent Presidential election creating an anxious atmosphere across the nation and tensions rising amongst social movements, we now more than ever need to come together. We need to support each other and accept our differences. It’s our differences that make us individuals and who we are as people.

Death and taxes are widely regarded as the only two certainties in this life, but change needs to be included in that equation. Whether we like it or not, change is constant. It’s inevitable and it’s not always fair. 2016 tested all of us in our own individual ways. It’s how we respond and adapt to this change that shows our true character as individuals, as a community, and as a country. I’m ready to put 2016 in the rearview and focus on the road ahead for 2017; I hope you are too.

Happy New Year Newport!

Tyler Bernadyn
Tyler Bernadyn at Midtown Oyster Bar

Tyler is a local hospitality professional, bartending at Midtown Oyster Bar Wednesday through Sunday nights on the Burgee Bar and at Caleb&Broad on Monday nights for their award winning $10 entree dinner special.

Tyler is a graduate of Providence College and a true Rhode Islander, born and bred.

Email him at TylerBernadyn@gmail.com and follow him on Instagram at @tylerbernadyn