Put-in-Bay Island Diary: May 2020

Photo: Employees at Mr. Ed’s and Cameo Pizza via Brian Cultice // Put-in-Bay Gazette

Fri., May 1st – The Put-in-Bay Gazette April issue is printed in the morning. You’ll notice a new outdoor newspaper rack outside the Island General Store since customers can no longer enter the store. Ted McCann (PIBHS Class of 1981) and his wife Betsy enjoy an island walk after dinner time. Just before 9 p.m. the harbor is lit with a fireworks display. A baby owl falls out of its nest in a tall tree in DeRivera Park. Terry Jenkins from Ohio Edison uses the bucket truck to get it back in the nest as the mother owl flies overhead keeping an eye on the situation.

Sat., May 2nd – It’s a beautiful day on the bay with temperatures in the mid 70s. Ted McCann (PIBHS Class of 1981) and his wife Betsy enjoy an island ride in a brightly-yellow-painted golf cart before dinner. The weather is gorgeous and there are a few boats in and out of the Crew’s Nest Docks and a couple spend the night. You can tell there are a few more unfamiliar people on the island, but it’s not even a minute fraction of the number of people who would have been on the island if there were no Covid-19 pandemic. Patty Bauer from Tipper’s is out hunting beach glass and a snake crawled on her foot. That put an end to that!

Sun., May 3rd – In the afternoon, Delaware Ave. is packed with socially distant spectators to take part in a graduation ceremony for Jessica Krueger, PIBHS Class of 2016. As far as we know, it’s the first ever Ohio State University graduation ceremony Put-in-Bay has ever held. Put-in-Bay should be called Turn-Around-Bay as numerous private boats, fishing to cabin cruisers and every kind in between, come into the Bay and turn around and leave. A few boaters are even brave enough to dock on A dock, but they are quickly told the docks are closed and clear off. A rental golf cart is spotted wearing their tires out on Bayview Ave. It was 10 years ago today that Julene M. Market christened the extension of the M/V Put-in-Bay.

Mon., May 4th – The Put-in-Bay Running Club is meeting for the first time in the morning. They start out with a brisk two-mile jog. There’s a Zoom meeting taking place between many island business owners, members of the Chamber of Commerce, representatives from Kelleys Island, Ohio Senator Theresa Gavarone and Ohio House Representative DJ Swearingen to discuss the unique challenges the islands have in response to Covid-19. Greg and Paula Ziebarth are busy getting rid of the invasive garlic mustard in the nature preserves. Kelly Faris is spotted by the post office planting the Arbor Day trees for the Lake Erie Islands Conservancy. Virtual funeral services are held for Bob Engel at Mother of Sorrows. It is followed by a live-feed final funeral procession from the church to the Maple Leaf Cemetery. PIB School Superintendent Steve Poe tells us he’s been working with Superintendent Barb Fearon at the Monument to have an abbreviated graduation ceremony for the PIBHS Class of 2020 in June.

Tue., May 5th – Cinco De Mayo on the island doesn’t have quite the same feeling it had in years past. Homemade tacos and margaritas will have to do for this year. Christie Ontko is hard at work at her “laboratory” making hand sanitizer. The Carriage House will be carrying OntkOrganix hand sanitizer in their retail store this summer. There’s a drive by 40th birthday party for Allie Market at her home near the Lime Kiln Dock. Congratulations to Lois Jellison who celebrates her 90th birthday. At sunset time, water covers the dock at the South Bass Island State Park.

Wed., May 6th – It’s Andy Christiansen’s birthday. Since he doesn’t have Facebook, friends have to swing by the Reel Bar and give him an air hug. Bob Gatewood sings a song in front of the Monument and gives us a virtual tour of the island on his Facebook page. Sean Casper, an entertainer at Mr. Ed’s, is the guest for the Island Guide Sunsets on Facebook. There’s an incredible sunset after Sean finishes his songs.

Thu., May 7th – To the excitement of many island business owners, Governor DeWine announces the state’s plan for reopening bars and restaurants. Patio dining is set to begin on May 15th, and dine in seating will begin on May 21st. Just in time for Memorial Day. Doug Wilhelm is flying over the islands in a B-25 to show support for frontline workers and emergency responders that have worked countless hours during the Covid-19 pandemic. The highway department has a crew on the island painting lines on State Route 357.

Fri., May 8th – Staff from The Boardwalk is seen getting their last minute errands finished. They will be opening on Saturday for carryout. The Crew’s Nest is having their first ever drive through happy hour in the evening. Customers are able to get their favorite happy hour snacks for just 50 cents, plus two to-go drinks at happy hour prices. Ray Fogg is hosting another virtual concert on his Facebook page. This time tips will go to pay for meals for the island’s first responders. Ray says his concerts have raised over $5,000 for local charities. The Ohio Division of Wildlife starts selling non-resident fishing and hunting licenses again after a temporary suspension of licenses went into effect in early April in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Crew’s Nest has its first-ever drive-by happy hour. Oh!, and did we mention several people report snowflakes along with high water in streets.

Sat., May 9th – The Boardwalk kicks off their 2020 season offering lobster bisque and lobster rolls to go. Put-in-Bay’s “A Path Forward” committee released a statement on Friday about reopening for the 2020 season and it has practically gone viral. Paul Jeris, VP of the Chamber of Commerce makes a live appearance on Fox8 in Cleveland to discuss the future plans. Kelleys Island Mayor Ronald Ehrbar announces details about his island reopening.
Sun., May 10th – Boardwalk customers can call or place an order online to get a Mother’s Day family-style dinner for four with seafood lasagna, house salad, breadsticks and carrot cheesecake.

Mon., May 11th – Miller Ferry starts their hourly trips to and from the mainland and removes Covid-19 passenger and travel restrictions that limited service to residents, property owners, workers and essential services while the stay-at-home order was in place. The boat Line also begins seven-day-per-week service. The Put-in-Bay Chamber of Commerce is having their monthly membership meeting via Zoom. Temperatures in the upper 30s and low 40s with steady 20-knot-plus winds are very invigorating as some of the island business prepare to open under the new governmental directives. Put-in-Bay Vol. Fire Department’s new ladder truck arrives on the island. Members of the PIB Garden Club are planting the lamp post flower baskets. Across the lake on Pelee Island, there is an electronic council meeting in the evening.

Tue., May 12th – The blessing of the fleet is being broadcasted via Facebook Live for all on the internet to see. Bernie Steinbach is at the helm of the watertaxi Stanley B with Mother Mary Staley from St. Paul’s and Deacon Mike from Mother of Sorrows as they bless the fleet on the water, safety vehicles on the dock and Lifeflight in the air. Also on the boat is Tina Rogers from the PIB Chamber of Commerce who narrates a live Facebook feed of the event. Workers from many businesses on the island are outside preparing their patios for guests this Friday. You’d normally see this much activity in early April, rather than mid May. Put-in-Bay’s charter fishing guides have the green light to take out customers once again. The PIB Twp. Board of Trustees Meeting is accessible via Zoom Video Conferencing for anyone who would like to attend with their concerns. On the West Shore, That Allie Girl performs live on social media as the sun sets to the west of Put-in-Bay.

Wed., May 13th – If you look out in the harbor you’ll see workers from The Boardwalk installing the mooring buoys. Frosty’s is starting home dinner Wednesday’s. Tonight’s featured item is Ryan’s famous chicken paprikash. Cleveland’s piano man, Mike Petrone, is the musician for sunsets with the Island Guide on Facebook.

Thu., May 14th – PIB Mayor Jessica Dress, Police Chief Steve Riddle, Lieutenant Russo, Mother Mary Staley and Deacon Mike Leahy produce a virtual program honoring fallen officers in Ottawa County. The event goes on YouTube. Members of many island businesses are meeting in the Town Hall to talk about the Chamber’s new brand and promotion strategy. Masks are provided and all chairs are spaced at least 6 feet apart. There will be a “digital day” held on June 4th for all Chamber members to attend and learn how to effectively promote the new brand through digital means. This would have been the scheduled day for the Put-in-Bay Island Pet Clinic, but it was cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions. It is now rescheduled for Thursday, July 14th, at the Kowalski residence on East Point. Larry and Carolyn McCabe from High Shores celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

Fri., May 15th – It’s the first day bars and restaurants have been able to seat guests (at least outside) since March 15th, a whopping 60 days! Although outdoor dining is allowed, rain puts a damper on things. Christie Ontko is having a big sale at Freshwater Retreat & Remedies. In the evening, the outdoor passionate the Crew’s Nest opens, and J.F. Walleye’s Patio opens for dining on Middle Bass. Weather guru Billy Market tells us if the weather report for Tuesday, May 19th, is real, the island could experience its worst flooding ever. Amanda Goaziu is working late into the night making chocolate treats for a soft and safe opening of the Candy Bar on the morrow.

Sat., May 16th – Kim Stoiber and her staff at Frosty Bar are serving their first breakfasts of the season at their open-air Backyard Patio and Bar. Among the first customers are Mark Petroff from the West Shore and the Gonzalez brothers from East Point. Nick Cartwright opens the pool bar at the Blue Marlin. Several downtown bars with outside seating are open. Among the shops open on Delaware Ave. are Lovella, the Candy Bar, Misty Bay Boutique, Shirt Shack and Sunstoppers. It’s Clean Up Day at Put-in-Bay Yacht Club with proper social distancing in effect. Tom and Barb Cooper are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.

Sun., May 17th – A mild wind out of the northeast brings water over Bayview Ave. from the yacht club to around Squaw Harbor. Island Bike Rental manager Adam Riley celebrates his 40th birthday. Out at the State Park the lot by the ramp is filled with out-of-state trucks with empty boat trailers parked by anxious fishermen out on the lake catching their limits of walleye.

Mon., May 18th – No better time than the present for boat waves, sun rays and lake days. Miller Boat Line adds more trips to the Put-in-Bay ferry schedule, but passengers getting off the ferry at the Lime Kiln get their tootsies wet as high lake water washes over the dock. Bobbi Dobos posts online that she has 13 dozen fresh eggs from her chickens to sell. Easterly winds pound the east shoreline of the islands. On Kelleys Island the road by the Seaway Marina is are closed due high water. Updated Covid-19 procedures allow the Erie Islands Library to offer no-contact pickups for items on hold. The little owlet falls out of its nest in one of the big trees across from the Roundhouse in DeRivera Park again. Thanks to Lisa Brohl , Nancy Tanner, Terry Jenkins and Sheri Kowalski who come to the rescue and get it back where it belongs.

Tue., May 19th – It looks like the nor’easter weather forecast guru Billy Market was talking about last Friday doesn’t materialize. Islanders want to know, “Is Billy losing his touch?” We spotted Tom Thanasiu leaving the island on a morning ferry heading to Toledo for a dentist appointment. He walked on and off the ferry barefooted because of high water on the docks. Someone crashes into the white picket fence in front of Connie Drake’s house on Meechen Rd. She finds a pile of broken class at the end of her driveway. Some of the island bar owners meet at the Roundhouse to share insight about how they will be operating as things open for the holiday weekend.
Wed., May 20th – It’s Awards Day at Put-in-Bay School. Awards recognizing student achievement were given out in a “Zoom Awards Presentation” with families and students watching each other from home on their computers. The Flower baskets around DeRivera Park go up on the lampposts thanks to masked volunteers and Richard Gump and Mike McCabe for their lift assist! Subway opens in the lobby of the Commodore Resort. Chris and Jason Cooper from Island Hardware were honored to participate in an upcoming television ad for Ohio Tourism. Leah Shepard and Sarah Toole were extras. Someone posts on Facebook that the tunnel to Put-in-Bay will open on Friday, May 22nd.

Thu., May 21st – The Put-in-Bay Brewery & Distillery opens! Tipper’s opens! The Bayview Room Bar at Put-in-Bay Yacht Club opens at 5 p.m. with social distancing the new norm. Volunteers from Put-in-Bay Fire Dept. are getting themselves familiar with the operation of their new ladder truck at the ramp at the South Bass Island State Park. On Kelleys Island, bird watchers enjoy a bird hike instead of a potluck and meeting.
Fri., May 22nd – Jet Express service to the island begins for the season from Port Clinton, but service for Sandusky and Kelleys Island is on hold for a while yet. The Goat Soup & Whiskey opens, plus Cameo Pizza opens daily for the season with dine-in, carry-out and delivery service. Although it rains much of the day, the evening ends with an advection fog that makes for the spookiest night on the island since last Halloween.

Sat., May 23rd – The morning begins with a thick advection fog. The wheels on the famous Lime Kiln Bus that transports passengers from the Lime Kiln Dock to downtown begin rolling for the first time for the 2020 season. Speaking of wheels, there’s a large group of Harley owners on the island and all their bikes are all black. The Sonny-S ferry service between Middle Bass Island and Put-in-Bay begins the season by running for the Memorial Day Weekend. Veterans ride today and for the next two days for free on Miller Boat Line.

Sun., May 24th – If you didn’t know there was a world-wide pandemic, you have thought it was a very normal, perfect-weather Memorial Day on the island. At the Put-in-Bay Yacht Club, there is a Memorial Day Service honoring this past year’s deceased members. Debby Parker sings the National Anthem. Members of the Community Swim/Sail Board meet via Zoom for 2 hours and 47 minutes to make a decision if this year’s program is a go or not.

Mon., May 25th – It’s Memorial Day 2020! There is a nice crowd on the island, but by evening, things are quiet again. During the day, veterans and active military personnel could ride for free on the Jet Express. Mother Mary has a nice surprise when she returns home from the American Legion Post’s Memorial Day ceremony at Maple Leaf Cemetery. She finds a huge fox snake in her yard. Andy Christensen from the Reel Bar is out delivering take-out meals and ends in Scott and Caroline Jackson’s yard by mistake as he tries to figure out where he is supposed to be making the delivery. Angela is lucky. At least her husband asks directions.

Tue., May 26th – PIB School K-6 students take a virtual field trip to Hawaii on Zoom. It was on this date 101 years ago that Ohio went dry a few months ahead of when Prohibition went into effect across the nation. Ask yourself, would you rather be dealing with a dry Put-in-Bay for the next 14 years or the Coronavirus pandemic we have now? The Kelleys Island Ferry is down with mechanical issues at the Marblehead dock.

Wed., May 27th – Put-in-Bay’s K-6th graders enjoy a Scavenger Hunt via email. Students search for and collect items in their houses and their yards to match the clues given and share the items in a Zoom meeting. Tree trimmers are busy on Thompson Rd. cutting away the branches that hang over the power lines.

Thu., May 28th – It’s officially the last day of social-distancing school on Put-in-Bay, and students stop by the school to pick up their things.

Fri., May 29th – The picnic tables are put out and power washed in DeRivera Park. There’s a lunch at the home of Piper Koehler and her grandfather Jeff Koehler who share the same birthday. The Class of 2020 Parade is honored with a community parade of teachers, friends and islanders which included the PIB Vol. Fire Department’s trucks. Thankfully, the rain stopped in time for the parade. The seniors, along with their families, were stationed at designated locations on the sidewalk at the west end of DeRivera Park. After the parade, the graduates had a group photo taken along the seawall between the Boardwalk and A-Dock. A bit later, Paul Jeris had the six grads ride around a bit in his three Cadillac Eldorado convertibles.

Sat., May 30th – Even with a pandemic going on, the traffic on the island is pretty good for a Saturday following a major holiday weekend. Mayor Jessica Dress and her husband, Don, enjoy dinner at the Goat Soup & Whiskey.

Sun., May 31st – It’s a bit cooler, but still a gorgeous day on the Bay. Jenny Fuchs is busy trimming the hedges in front of the Fuchs house on Bayview Ave. She wears a red Roundhouse bucket as a helmet to keep a pesky blackbird from pecking her head. There are 18 vehicles in the antique car parade.

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