By Nicole A. Elliott Staff writer
A brief shower that rolled across the region Monday morning still didn’t stop local residents from going out to enjoy area beaches and special events to kick-off the unofficial start to summer this Memorial Day weekend.
Otherwise there was nothing but plenty of sunshine and hot temperatures throughout the holiday weekend, with highs ranging from the low to upper 80s.
Michael Farmer, publicity director for the Town of Webb in Herkimer County, said the businesses and campers of Old Forge couldn’t have been happier.
"We were crushed this weekend," said Farmer in response to the crowds walking along Main Street. "I expected we’d have good traffic, but I didn’t know how much people would be spending. Gas prices are a little better, but we’re the most accessible Adirondack resort and people don’t have to travel far. We were just waiting to see if people had anything to spend when they got here, but the businesses were very happy."
Farmer said that business was actually so much better than expected, that some business owners weren’t prepared for the impact.
"A few business owners were surprised at the numbers and had a little struggle getting geared up for it," he said. "With the weather, it was a tremendous weekend. We’re counting on the people from the valley and around the region to go back and talk it up. They all seemed happier and hopefully they’re telling their friends to come on up for a visit" this summer.
For the remainder of the season, Farmer said the Town of Webb Visitor’s Center plans to market Old Forge as a "back
yard" destination for local residents to get away.
"We’ve made a real effort recently to position not only Old Forge, but all the surrounding communities like Eagle Bay and Big Moose, as the back yard destination with people struggling with gas prices and the economy," he said. "We see some folks again and again, and they’re almost like locals. A lot of people say they like it here because it’s like being in their own hometown."
At Sylvan Beach Amusement Park, even the rain Monday morning didn’t keep sunbathers off the beach, said Office Manager Jeffrey Herder.
"The beach was just packed every day this weekend," Herder said. "We got very lucky. There was just that little rain that came Monday morning and then the sun came right back out at noon, which totally made our day. Saturday was definitely our biggest day up here."
Laura Tully, Lake Delta State Park manager, and Joseph Morisette, park manager of Verona Beach State Park, were not working today and could not be reached for comment. Officials at both parks said attendance numbers for the weekend were not available.
Fort Stanwix National Monument hosted the French and Indian War Encampment Saturday and Sunday to overwhelming crowds, park officials said. On Saturday attendance at the historic site was 380, and 350 on Sunday.
Kimberly Szewczyk, chief of interpretation at Fort Stanwix, said the Crossroads of Culture renactment featured several activities for adults and children. Author Alan E. Sterling held a book signing at the fort, while officials from Fort Bull described to visitors the archeological dig going on at their site. Children learned to make trade bead necklaces in the suttlery and wore period costumes as they learned to play 18th century games, Szewczyk said.
"It was a very busy weekend — both days," she said. "We had lots going on."
On Monday residents also took time to pay their respects to those who made the ultimate sacrifice during Memorial Day services and parades throughout the region. At Veterans Memorial Park on North James Street, officials estimated more than 200 gathered to honor veterans of the armed services. A shower during the ceremony prompted attendees to open their umbrellas, while brothers Thomas, Raymond and Edward Arcuri lowered the flag flown in honor of their mother, Navy World War II veteran Emma Maydick Arcuri. All three brothers, like their father Thomas Arcuri, served in the Marine Corps. The folded flag was then presented to their sister, Mary Rose Arcuri Pike. Gold Star Mothers Agnes Geary and Janet Uvanni also helped lay the memorial wreath in honor of their fallen sons, Lance Cpl. Daniel J. Geary and Army Sgt. Michael A. Uvanni, and others killed in action.