Syracusans have much to be proud of. Their city has a long history of accomplishments. But there is one accomplishment that many of its citizens might not even know about. And if they did, they might not be so proud. Last year, and for the past 6 years, the City of Syracuse has won the coveted Golden Snowball Award. The award is given to the city in central and upstate New York with a population of at least 100,000 that has the highest seasonal snowfall. The cities competing for the prize are Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse.

This season, a new contest called the Golden Snow Globe Award was begun. This contest is open to every city in the U.S, again with populations greater than 100,000. As of this writing Syracuse is comfortably in the lead, followed by Erie, Pa.; Buffalo, N.Y. ; Fort Collins, Co.; and Rochester, N.Y. There is little doubt that the Golden Snow Globe Award for 2009-2010 will find itself alongside the Golden Snowball come spring.

The Golden Snowball resides on a shelf just outside the offices of newly-elected Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner. Mayor Miner is the fifty-third person to hold the office and the first woman to do so. Her inauguration was held outside at her request. With temperatures in the single digits, she walked the few blocks from city hall to the stage in a parade of supporters that included a band of barelegged bagpipers.

Mindful of the time and temperature, and keeping her remarks short, Mayor Miner told the crowd of 300: "I have to tell you that it was my idea to have this ceremony out in the open in Clinton Square. I did that because I truly believe that we here in the city of Syracuse have to embrace what is unique and fantastic about us. We are hardy stock, we Syracusans."

As the new mayor sat watching, kids from the Syracuse City School Eradication Drill Team performed their routines in tee shirts. The young Odesa Ukranian Dance Ensemble did the same but their traditional costumes left them a little less vulnerable to the cold. Skaters paused to watch the proceedings and the city's brand new snow plow sat silently off stage, its blades still bright orange and unscathed.

It is a pretty good bet that the Golden Snowball Award will reside in Syracuse's City Hall for years to come. Because of term limits, Mayor Miner will have eight years at most. Let's hope she has more than a snowball's chance of success while she's there.

Check out David's photo essay on how Syracuse deals with snow in this month's issue of Governing.Story Behind the Story appears every Tuesday.