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Timeless tradition of Delaware Park rowboats as popular as ever

Mike Desmond/WBFO News

Delaware Park is well known for its running in the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter. However, for more than a century, people have rowed boats across the lake in the heart of the Olmsted-designed park. That tradition is continuing today, with perhaps a different mix of residents taking advantage of the amenity.
The symbol of boating in Hoyt Lake is the row boat. They are moored in the middle of the lake near Marcy Casino. On the shore, several others are moored waiting for customers to rent them for half-hour periods. Sarah Dimayo is one of the people who rents out the boats to park visitors for the Olmsted Parks Conservancy and the Buffalo Maritime Center.

"We tend to attract a lot of the people on the weekend, Saturday and Sundays. During the week, we tend to attract people towards the end of the day," Dimayo said. "Yeah, people just going around the park. If they're running, they see it. They just tend to stop by and ask about it and they're curious and they hop in one of our boats and take it around for a half-hour."

It is $11 per half-hour. Dimayo says rowing is great exercise, especially for the rower's shoulders - which is important to her as a swimmer at Canisius College. Kimi Lasser had a different view and discovery.
"Last night, I was wandering around here playing Pokemon Go and, yup, I discovered the Rose Garden and I decided that there's where I want to get married." Lasser said. "So I had to bring him here and it just happened to be my birthday, so we decided to go on a boat."

The "him" is Matt Hochadel, who said he usually bicycles in the park.
"It's the first time I've ever done that and I love it. I love the exercise. It's beautiful," Lasser said. "You get to get out there. You get to see another side of the park, which is a great park."

A group of Tamil local residents rowed away just after Lasser and Hochadel, with kids of all ages wrapped up in life preservers and the adults learning  how to row.

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.