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'There is no savior for this year': The summer that almost wasn't at Olcott Beach

There were tourists at Olcott Beach Sunday, boating and customers on the restaurant decks. It has been a tough year for the Lake Ontario destination.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

"There is no savior for this year. Zero. None. Not a chance," said Newfane Supervisor Timothy Horanburg about what's going on.

There was concern that the lake level might be dangerously high again this year, although that didn't turn out too badly. This year's problem is COVID-19, the quarantine and everything related.

"It's almost like the summer that wasn't. Nothing's open, the beach, the carousel park," said Horanburg. "The big advantage we do have is that at least people are coming down on weekends, just because they want to get out and be near the water and enjoy the park that we have here. But it's been a summer like I've never seen before."

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

Merchants at the small shops serving the community said they are seeing visitors from New York, people who want to stay within the Empire State this year.

Karen Young has run the Gift Box at the Beach in a tourist area of small shops for 11 years. Young says it's different.

"We're getting a lot more tourists from New York. They are all within the state. They don't want to leave the state, so they are finding other areas of the state that they haven't been," Young said. "So we've had a lot of people from Long Island, Staten Island, kind of the Eastern side of the state coming and making their way out West."

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

Some were buying the traditional items like popcorn or ice cream. Michelle Trimper was the artist being shown off in one of the small stores.

"People are interested in flower pots," Trimper said. "I had 25 flower pots. They're all sold, that I painted."

At the century-old Olcott Yacht Club, Past Commodore Mark Cassidy said there is one big goal.

"We want to make the club survive," he said. "The club has been here for 100 years now. It's a very big supporter of the community. It's a big taxpayer. It's a big employer for the community. And it's a very big asset for the junior sailing program."

Albany is going to help the club raise the level of the clubhouse to keep it above the rising water, part of the millions of dollars the state is putting into the REDI Program to help communities hit by years of high water.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News


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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