Put-in-Bay Island Diary: December 2020

Tue., Dec. 1st – The township snow plowers are out before dawn and it snows until after lunch. There are no boats or planes all day, plus school gets a two-hour delayed start. If you’re picking up freight at the Lime Kiln Dock, you’re asked not to use the main entrance, but the back road to the freight barn. During the snow and wind, Ohio Edison man Terry Jenkins is spotted working on an electric pole in front of the Put-in-Bay Winery. When the snow stops, there’s about 6 inches on the ground.

Wed., Dec. 2nd – The original forecast for the day called for much more wind, but the lake calmed considerably and the snow started to melt. Nora Ladd turns 18 and two of her first purchases are lottery tickets at the Island General Store and spray paint at the Hardware Store. It’s patron appreciation at the Erie Islands Library and islanders can stop by for some Christmas cookie treats (individually wrapped of course!).

Thu., Dec. 3rd – The booms from Camp Perry can be heard on SBI. One sure sign of winter is when the guys from the Crew’s Nest start putting the aerator equipment on the docks to avoid ice damage when the lake freezes. The South Bass Island Lighthouse weather station goes back on line in the evening after being down since late July. Islanders gather downtown in the evening for the official lighting of the beautiful Christmas lights in DeRivera Park.

Fri., Dec. 4th – A committee from the Village Council meets at the Frederick property on Erie Street to figure out options for leasing part of the property to the DeRivera Park Trust so they can build a maintenance facility and a dorm for their dock and park workers. The Monument is bright pink as the sun sets.

Sat., Dec. 5th – Anne Dailey celebrates her birthday! The temperature hovers in the mid 30s with just enough snow and wind to make it uncomfortable to be outside.

Sun., Dec. 6th – School officials send out notice that an elementary teacher tested positive and students will go on remote learning. The Recreation Committee is passing out senior gift baskets at the fire station.

Mon., Dec. 7th – There’s no school due to the one teacher testing positive for Covid. Workers begin putting a new roof on Topsy Turvey’s.

Tue., Dec. 8th – At the Town Hall, there’s a Council meeting in the morning, but the regular meeting for the PIB Twp. Trustees has been postponed. School is back in session for all the classes except for the one class where the teacher tested positive for Covid.

Wed., Dec. 9th – Islanders heading out to East Point notice that someone smashed into one of the two brick pillars at the entrance to Shore Villas and destroyed it. Available jobs at Perry’s Monument for the 2021 season are posted online for the first time.

Thu., Dec. 10th – There’s a report of a bit of skim ice around some of the docks in the harbor. A group from Heineman Winery makes a quick trip to North Bass on their boat. The Village Council meets for a public hearing and then approves a definition change in its zoning ordinance. Miller Boat Line runs one morning and one afternoon trip to Middle Bass. Far from Put-in-Bay, Ryan Stoiber from Frosty’s is celebrating his birthday with Joe Bodenbender, from Bodee’s Bungalow, and Brett Klun, from The Keys, fishing in Crystal River, Florida. The USCG Morro Bay is spotted off the islands.

Fri., Dec. 11th – Meredith Engel (PIBHS Class of 2016) is officially commissioned as a Navy Ensign in a virtual ceremony conducted on the deck of one of Miller ferries at Put-in-Bay. Her aunt and Godmother, Natalie Ontko Price (PIBHS Class of 1994), administers the oath of office. A two-week-old Meredith was in attendance 22 years earlier when Natalie was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Air Force. In the afternoon, Chefs Michael Catey and Marie Schroeder are serving up homemade chili and Italian wedding soup in the front yard of Mike’s house on Catawba Ave. Those stopping by and the fun being had reminds us of what island life is all about and should be more often!

Sat., Dec. 12th – The Put-in-Bay Panther Basketball season starts with a trio of home games. The Junior and Senior High girl teams play the Fairport Harbor Skippers and High School boys go up against the Lake Flyers. Unfortunately, Put-in-Bay School policy does not allow fan attendance at the games. The games are streamed live on pibpanthers.com. It may be raining all morning, but by mid-afternoon, the porch in front of Topsy Turvey’s is busy with customers enjoying the sunny weather.

Sun., Dec. 13th – The PIB Rec. Committee arranges for Santa to make a special visit to the island. He rides around on one of the PIBVFD fire trucks to the homes of all the good little island kids delivering gifts. Dave and Jill Warga from Mikes Dr. on East Point celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary.

Mon., Dec. 14th – The Put-in-Bay Chamber of Commerce’s Executive Board is meeting in the morning via ZOOM. Members log on for the meeting from far and wide; Brian Cultice from the Gazette is at PIB, Brad Ohlemacher from the Bird’s Nest is in Florida, Dave Shafer from Ashley’s House is in Cleveland, and Paul Jeris from the Island Club is on a pontoon boat in Florida. The general membership meeting later that day is also via ZOOM.

Tue., Dec. 15th – Put-in-Bay Chamber of Commerce posts a cheery video with a variety of island business owners wishing everyone Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year. Miller Ferry announces an extended schedule through December 31st.

Wed., Dec. 16th – Millers cancels the first ferry trip as light snow hits the islands. In the evening, the volunteer firefighters are training with the two floating pumps they have to help provide water to areas of the island where there are no hydrants. This is the first time both floating pumps are in action. Together they can pump almost 1200gpm through their deck gun and two hand lines without losing water level in the drafting pool.

Thu., Dec. 17th – In the morning, there’s a one-hour and 40-minute virtual meeting to discuss and answer questions about the Perry’s Monument Seawall Restoration project expected to begin this coming spring. If you want to play it safe, you’re advised to have your mainland car off the island by Tuesday the 22nd. PIB EMS Director Patrick Rogers gets his first Covid vaccination in Toledo.

Fri., Dec. 18th – Put-in-Bay School lets out for Christmas vacation. Representatives from the Ottawa County Improvement Corp. are on the island presenting checks to recipients of their RISE Grant program. Jessie’s Jewelry, Put-in-Bay Watercraft Rentals, Frosty’s, Duff’s Workshop and the Lake Erie Island Nature and Wildlife Center were among the island businesses selected to receive up to $3,500.

Sat., Dec. 19th – Miller ferry M/V Put-in-Bay is put away for a “long Winter’s rest” after “a loooong 2020 season.” The M/V Wm. Market completes the remaining trips of the year. Long-time East Point resident Rose Kahler celebrates her 80th birthday with her family.

Sun., Dec. 20th – Billy Market correctly predicts the weather forecast for Christmas and beyond is not looking good for ferry service to and from the island. The annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count takes place on the Lake Erie Islands. A group of young, mask wearing islanders go out Christmas caroling in the evening. Fourteen homes are visited by the seven singers.

Mon., Dec. 21st – Although there’s no formal wine club meeting, Mother Mary and Marylou Ramsbottom share a glass of wine together in the evening. Rob and Marshall Stacy are walleye fishing off one of the glacier rocks after dark. Four years ago on this date, the islands were surrounded by ice on the lake.

Tue., Dec. 22nd – Cars are left behind on the first ferry trip off the island and the first trip from Catawba PIB Yacht Club bartender Sean William Koltiska makes a trip to deliver meat to his island customers from his butcher shop at the Westside Market in Cleveland, plus takes time to button up the beehives he tends here on the island. Susan Byrnes and Lisa Brohl are kayaking the harbor in the dark at dinner time taking photos of the homes and businesses lit up for the holidays. Jack and Janet Bergen from Victory Ave. celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary.

Wed., Dec. 23rd – Billy Market posts an abbreviated schedule for Christmas Eve, plus announces he foresees no more ferries after Christmas.

Thu., Dec. 24th – Fireworks are in order as the last ferry of the season enters the downtown harbor for the winter.

Fri., Dec. 25th – A very white Christmas! There’s more snow than the island has had for many years at Christmas. By evening the winds are over 30 knots with gusts of 40 knots out of the west.

Sat., Dec. 26th – Patty Bauer from Tipper’s is among those flying between the mainland and the island. We hope she sees enough snow below to last her the entire winter. The ice on the shoreline of the West Shore is spectacular!

Sun., Dec. 27th – By 10 p.m., the temperature hits 45 degrees and the wind is blowing 25 knots out of the south.

Mon., Dec. 28th – Much of the beautiful Christmas snow is gone when islanders rise in the morning. Two-year-old Evie Cultice gets her first plane ride to the island. There should be a certificate for a special event like this! Jenny Stoiber who is a doctor at the Soldiers & Sailors Home in Sandusky gets her first Covid vaccine. She’s the second islander to start the two-shot series.

Tue., Dec. 29th – A large group gathers downtown between the Boardwalk and Village a-Dock to see the igniting of the very large “burn the germ” Covid germ ball built in the Miller Boat Line workshop by craftsman Mark Keiser. It’s a way for islanders to help put 2020 behind and hope for a better 2021 season for everyone, as well as some good ice! There is also a Ty Winchester pyrotechnic production shot off A-Dock to accompany the germ burn. The display is seen by a few people on Pelee Island. On Middle Bass, they burn a papier mâché walleye and shoot off fireworks in hopes of a great new year and some ice for ice fishing this winter.

Wed., Dec. 30th – It’s a mostly rainy day. The bank doesn’t open due to concerns of bank employees not being able to fly back to the mainland in the afternoon. Bobbi Dobos is working at the airport freight barn.

Thu., Dec. 31st – FINALLY, the last day of 2020!, the year we desperately want to forget, but unfortunately will always remember. Miller Boat Line announces they will run ferry trips on Monday the 4th, Tuesday the 5th and Wednesday the 6th. Topsy Turvey’s and The Forge are open for those going out to celebrate New Years Eve. A few fireworks are shot off at midnight as well as the bell at the town hall being rung.


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