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Warmer weather bringing memories of Crystal Beach

Riding the Comet roller coaster was a highlight at Crystal Beach.

Once upon a time, the nearing end of the school year and the arrival of warm weather brought ambitions of heading off to Crystal Beach, by the Crystal Beach boat or hitchhiking or just driving to the Ontario shore. As author Erno Rossie presented Wednesday evening, the name is still there and so are the memories.

Rossi was at the Steel Plant Museum in Buffalo talking about the former amusement park and the summer life it enhanced. The words "Crystal Beach" represented beaches, roller coasters, loganberry and - perhaps - first love. For generations, he said, there was an attraction to Crystal Beach as a place for fun - lots of fun.

Credit MIke Desmond / WNFO News
Erno Rossi speaks to a crowd at the Steel Museum.

"Happy people doing fun things all together and no violence because everyone was happy," Rossie reminisced. "When I worked there in the summer, it was almost the kind of place where you wanted to pay the people in charge for the job because it was so much fun being there working."

Rossi said he had one of the downmarket jobs: pushing a broom, cleaning up the paved areas of the amusement park. He said there was no single reason why the park eventually closed, listing issues from smaller families to managers who did not know what they were doing.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

"The pill which kept kids from being born and interests on loans which were sky high, just really sky high," Rossie said. "That was bad and then people who weren't really trained to operate that park got in trouble and went bankrupt."

Rossi pointed out the amusement park's famous Comet roller coaster still exists, now at Lake George in New York's Adirondacks. What a great ride it was, Rossie said.

"Just a fine, exciting coaster," he said. "You didn't think you were going to lose your life in this one, but the one that just disappeared because it was making up the one you were in, you thought you were going to die and you knew you were going to die in the first curve."

Travel down memory lane in this documentary WNED-TV produced, Remembering Crystal Beach Park:

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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