In thirty years of the Put-in-Bay Gazette, we can’t remember summing up a past year so filled with extraordinary events or achievements on South Bass Island, Put-in-Bay as 2008 has been. The great new things and changes this past year include the business, cultural, green, sports and public communities on the islands. There are so many of them, we don’t even know if we included them all in the list below.
We’ll start first with the Village of Put-in-Bay. Achievements this past year include a raised water tower and storage tank to help supply the rest of South Bass Island. The Put-in-Bay Village also built two new housing units to house village employees. And then as the year closes, three of the main, old concrete streets in the village of Put-in-Bay are being black-topped. One small, but important, change was fixing the basement window well at the Town Hall to keep water from flooding into the basement police department during heavy rains. The township trustees also initiated a recycling program for trash.
When it comes to sports, what a great thing it was when the Put-in-Bay High School Panther Basketball Team travelled to Hawaii for the tournament and had the opportunity to visit the USS Lake Erie, the ship credited with shooting down that failing spy satellite last winter. Also in the sports category was the Lake Erie Islands Browns Backers headquartered at Put in Bay being named Club of the Year. The club’s Rib Burn-Off in June was the biggest ever, even with the rain. The 3-on-3 Co-Ed Basketball Tournament in June wasn’t new this year, but this year was so well organized and a real plus bringing many of the island’s workers together socially. One of the biggest undertakings was the renovation of thePut-in-Bay ball diamond with its new score board on Concord Ave. What a great change for the players and fans. This year’s Miller Boat Line 5K Run was the biggest ever and was something to toot about from the Boardwalk’s new horns.
As for businesses, the new Island Life Museum at the Doller House top the list of new endeavors which add to island life. Another new business which helped out the Lake Erie Islands Historical Society was the opening of the Heritage Antique and Resale Shop. Thanks to volunteer workers and donations from numerous people on the island, the shop raised $30,000 for the museum. The new High Tide bar and outside patio at Axel & Harry’s also joins the list of great new things on the islands in 2008. And let’s not forget the Pit Stop at the filling station, DJ Parker’s new little ice cream and coffee shop and all the changes at the Put in Bay hardware store.
At the Monument there were several wonderful new things. Among them were the celebrations of the Canadian and United States birthdays, complete with cake and ice cream. You may have also noticed the installation of three new flagpoles to take the place of the two old ones. Flag Sales and Repair of Toledo had Todd Blumensaadt’s crew install the poles which will begin flying the American, Canadian, and British flags next season. The last minute switching of a couple of events because of weather from the east side of the Visitors Center to the Toledo Avenue side was not only innovative but kept the e vents from being cancelled. The Put-in-Bay community potlucks initiated by new Perry Monument Superintendent Blanca Stransky are one of the best things we’ve seen when it comes to Monument/Community relations and communications. We congratulate her as she spearheads the Monument repairs and the push towards the celebration of the Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial. Also this year, along with the two symphony orchestra concerts, were the concerts by the Dixie Doodlers and Mamadou Diabate, the African band which played music the likes of which has never been heard at Perry’s Monument.
On the cultural front, the artist receptions and Children’s Art Show at the Doller House promoted by Jan Novak and Celeste Mycoskie from the Blue Cottage Gallery and the Put-in-Bay Arts Council were very enjoyable. Kelleys Island Artist Chuck Herndon, the 21 @ the Bay artists who spent a week painting island scenes, Jim Siemer from Middle Bass Island, and American flag artist Scott Lobaido were all great events. And when it comes to one of the most exciting events of the year, it was Lobaido’s painting a 4 ft. by 8 ft. American flag in eight minutes to the music of Free Bird at the Monument on Historical Weekend Saturday after the commanding officer, Ronald Boxall, from the Aegis Missile Cruiser U.S.S. Lake Erie gave his very informative speech.
Some of the biggest changes on the island were on the “green” front. The acquisition of the Geiss/Valore property on the tip of East Point for a waterfront park, the Scheeff East Point Nature Preserve, was a real coup for islanders and those who visit the island. The Jane Coates Wildlife Trail added more to preserving the nature of the island as did the acquisition of the former Alaskan Birdhouse Museum which has become The Lake Erie Islands Nature and Wildlife Center. Other properties for preservation were also acquired n the Victory Woods and on Put-in-Bay Rd. behind the Wildlife Center. One can’t even imagine the hard but rewarding work put in by the Lake Erie Islands Chapter of the Black Swamp Conservancy and the Island Park District Board to preserve these natural areas on the islands.
The upper Bass Islands can’t be left out of this 2008 list. The Lonz marina construction project, the Blue Lagoon waterfall at J.F. Walleye’s, the new water tower on Fox Rd., an expansion of the Burgundy Bay water plant, a new pool at the Burgundy Bay Club House, and the upgraded sewage treatment plant at Burgundy Bay have all made for extreme changes on Middle Bass, more than has ever been experienced in one year before on the island. On North Bass, the fun-packed annual Lake Erie Islands Historical Society Tour in August was followed by the inaugural North Bass Fly-in.
Some other things which changed this past year or added some fun to the island were the moving of the island’s Chamber of Commerce’s suppliers meet and greet to the Put in Bay Resort . And how about those “Biggest Loser” contests for island residents who slimmed down this past year. Then there were all those color pages in the Put-in-Bay Gazette, something made possible by recent technology. The “VOTE” sign on the Jet Dock side of the old Lion Hill Winery building at the Put-in-Bay Marina was certainly timely this year.
Off shore on the Friday of Historical Weekend was a wreath laying at the Battle of Lake Erie site by sailors from the USS Lake Erie on board the Coast Guard ice breaker Biscayne Bay. How rare for sailors from the battle’s namesake ship to take part in a ceremony at the actual battle site.
Other things of note were the Perry Group’s Swingmania fundraiser, the passing of early Sunday liquor sales by voters of Put-in-Bay in November, and the 35th anniversary celebration of the Crew’s Nest swimming pool last spring.
In these difficult times, all these things are evidence of how vibrant and progressive our island community is. Let’s hope the coming new year at Put-in-Bay will bring more of the same!
Put-in-Bay is a popular vacation spot just 2 miles offshore of mainland Northwest Ohio in Lake Erie. While "Put-in-Bay" is technically the name of the village on South Bass Island, the name commonly is inadvertently used to refer to the entire island. A summer resort since the mid-1800's, the village can be considered the hub of tourism among the Lake Erie Islands, with its numerous taverns, wineries, restaurants, waterfront condos, rental homes, and hotels.