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.