Another Fine Summer Celebrated by
The Friends of Crystal Beach

Years ago, a bunch of young summer cottagers decided to mourn/celebrate the end of summer at Crystal Beach. It started out as drunken farewell to Old Man Summer whose coffin was set afire and sent to a watery grave in Lake Erie near the Palmwood Hotel. Over the years, the tradition evolved into a three day “wake” and a loose-knit group of cottagers in cars parading through the streets of Crystal Beach. (Whew, good thing there weren’t RIDE stops back then.)

The end of summer festivities eventually faded away as the summer party people grew up and moved on. Then the Crystal Beach Amusement Park closed in 1989, just a year after celebrating its centennial. Things went downhill for a while in the Beach, but there were people who believed that better things were ahead for the beloved village. One of those groups, the Friends of Crystal Beach began to work towards making Crystal Beach the popular place to live and enjoy as it had for over a century.

Fast forward and today Crystal Beach is back and better than ever. No amusement park, of course, but a whole new attitude and influx of permanent residents has transformed the once summer only village into a vibrant year-round fun place. So it seemed only right to bring back the tradition of sending Old Man Summer off to his just reward. Of course, there is no longer the burning casket sent into Lake Erie; rules and respect for the environment prevail now.

So, without further ado, here are the highlights of this year’s End of Summer Parade with pictures from Rick Doan, our celebrated historian and photographer who, along with Kathy Herbert, is largely responsible for preserving the memories of the fabled Crystal Beach Amusement Park.

Photo that appeared in the Fort Erie Post (photo by Sarah Ferguson) regarding the End of Summer Parade. The banner, reproduced and enlarged by M.J. SignCraft, is from a special edition of The Buffalo News to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Crystal Beach Amusement Park. The parade’s theme is to commemorate that 30 years have passed since the park closed forever.
Mr. Crystal Beach, Paul Kassay rides along with the Parade.
Mayor Wayne Redekop and his With Kathy get a cool ride in Paul and Donna Lewis’s vintage Mustang.
Laughing Sal, complete with her famous cackle, from the popular “Laff in the Dark” from the Crystal Beach Amusement Park
Cottage party animals of yore remember Hot Dog Alley, especially after the bars closed. The block of Derby between Erie and Cambridge was full of people hungry for the food sold at vendors along the way.. Gayle Martineau wanted to make sure this CB tradition was recognized.
Bob Steckley, owner of the Crystal Beach Candy Company was the Grand Marshall of the parade. He is responsible for keeping Crystal Beach Amusement Park favourites like Sugar Waffles, Suckers and Loganberry available for those who want to again enjoy them and new generations of fans.
Rick Doan and Kathy Herbert were singled out for their hard work to photograph and preserve memories of Crystal Beach, especially the amusement park.
Emcee Jerry Pequeen gets ready to speak about the End of Summer tradition and to introduce the special guests, including Mother Nature and Old Man Summer.
“It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature,” said the lady to Old Man Summer who promised another three weeks of good weather for the summer.
Bob Steckley speaks about his efforts to preserve the treats that made Crystal Beach famous and his thanks for the community’s support.
Local dignitaries listen to speeches at the commemoration ceremony. Kathy Redekop, Mayor Wayne Redekop, Debbie Steckley, Bob Steckley and Wayne Gates.
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Steve Fox wrote and recorded this song about Crystal Beach.