2019 in Review
I started 2020 by deleting Shirley Grace’s e-mail account that I had set up for her when she got her new laptop. She had great plans to publish a website or blog to discuss the many theories and experiences she had amassed in her ninety-four years on earth. She never got to record her story, but many of us have vivid memories of her recollections. She was full of them. Wow. What a life!
So, the latter part of 2019 was spent by the Friends of Crystal Beach in filling the huge gap left by Shirley’s passing. She has kept the books up to date as Treasurer, even though she was suffering in her final days. I reluctantly took over and tried to pick up where she left off. The jury is still out on whether I have succeeded in this regard. I’m now reading Quicken For Dummies (I definitely qualify) so that I can continue what was started years ago by previous treasurers.
We also volunteer to oversee Bingos at Uncle Sam’s on Garrison Road a couple of times each month. This gives us revenue to put on free events like the Sunday Concerts and promote the annual Circle of Art, and the End of Summer Parade.
The Friends of Crystal Beach had a very good year and we should all be proud of its accomplishments. The year got off to a bit of a rocky start with key members and officers absent from the roster. Not the first time this has happened, but it did cause some to work a bit harder to keep things going smoothly. By the time the Summer Sunday Waterfront Concerts at Waterfront Park in Crystal Beach were to begin in early July, Gayle Martineau, who took over the concert co-ordination job, had everything in hand. The four concerts were well received. Of course the Toronto All Star Big Band returned again as expected, however, this year the theme was to showcase local bands, of which there are many and the crowds were appreciative of our local talent. The final concert, Gary Pooler’s Neo Young (Neil Young Tribute Band) brought a record crowd of regulars and new fans to the Waterfront Park. The Skins from Welland and Westwind, a popular local band with a country flair were also in the series.
Before that, the culmination of a long-held dream took place in late May as the brand new Bay Beach Park was opened on the site of the once Rebstock-owned property overlooking the public beach at Crystal Beach that the town bought in 2001. It took a long time to achieve the dream; the community had worked hard with the town to make it a reality. With grants and donations, the park was constructed. The Ridgeway Lions gathered funds to build a free playground on the property which also includes new washrooms. a pavilion, picnic area, benches and lots of trees. Some of the trees and benches were donated by The Friends of Crystal Beach. The FOCB received a plaque commemorating its contribution to the effort. Recent survey results show that overall, the public was impressed with the new park and improvements to the beach. Parking and beach admission fees will be adjusted to reflect suggestions and concerns from the public but it looks like 2020 will be an even better year for beach-goers. We waited so long for this and we almost lost the property to a high rise developer, so, for many of us, 2019 was the year that Bay Beach Came Back!
For the fifth great year, the ever-popular Circle of Art took place on July 20 at Queens Circle in the heart of Crystal Beach. Once again, Gayle Martineau marshaled her volunteers and put on a record-setting event with over 50 artists and artisans displaying and selling their work in the judged event.
The Friends of Crystal Beach received recognition from the Fort Erie Communities in Bloom for restoring the “Welcome” sign on Ridgeway Road. It had been erected several years ago by a group of residents but had deteriorated badly due to weather and age. The FOCB contracted M J Sign Craft to rebuild and install the replacement sign which will be maintained by the Crystal Beach Business Association.
The Friends of Crystal Beach also paid to replace the signage at the Ashwood Entrance to Bay Beach with pictures and artwork to replace the original painted sign that was damaged by weather.
The End of Summer Parade over Labour Day Weekend returned with a bang and a commemoration of the 30th year since the fabled Crystal Beach Amusement Park closed. But it was a celebration of the good times had at the park while acknowledging just how far the village has come since the park closed. A great turnout and those who kept the history and the spirit of the amusement park alive were honoured guests in the parade.
2019 was the first year in many that the FOCB did not sponsor the Crystal Beach 5K Run/Walk over Thanksgiving Weekend in October. The organizers of the event decided to go solo and they did well with the help of the Crystal Beach Business Association. The day started out cloudy but cleared up for a spectacular day for runners and spectators alike.
Finally, the year was capped off with Spreading Christmas Cheer on December 3, the third annual roast beef dinner and seasonal entertainment by the Trinity Choir in conjunction with the Ridgeway Lions at the Crystal Ridge Community Centre. The FOCB also donated funds toward the food served at the Lions’ annual Community Turkey Dinner held on December 21 at the community centre. The free dinner was open to anyone who wished to share a communal meal with friends and neighbours. The attendance was high and any leftovers were donated to the Lighthouse Diner, a community food provider located in Crystal Beach.
The Friends of Crystal Beach will have its first meeting of the year on Thursday, January 30 at the Crystal Ridge Library on South Ridge Road in Ridgeway at 7:00 p.m. Meetings usually last an hour or so and we welcome all new and interested people to attend. We’re always looking for people who want to see what was once called “a hidden gem” to shine brightly for all to see and enjoy. Join us as we work toward that goal.