By Bruce Stambaugh
I overheard a mother tell her pouting adolescent daughter, “There are no sad faces at Lakeside. It’s a rule.”
The mother’s demonstrative point was clear. There was too much fun to be had at Lakeside, Ohio for anyone of any age to be gloomy. It’s a main reason my wife and I return year after year for a week’s vacation.
Indeed, Lakeside offers plenty to do. Adults and children alike can choose from a sunup to sundown selection of activities in which to participate. They range from sailing lessons to garden walks and talks to wellness classes.
The fact that the resort town is built on the shores of Lake Erie helps expand the variety. Lakesiders can pick from activities in the categories of religion, education, arts and entertainment, recreation and planned events. It’s all part of the entrance fee.
Visitors can recline with a good book under one of the many towering hardwoods that line the rocky shore and multi-task. Waves crash the hard shore, boats sail by and elations echo from playgrounds, the dock, the beach and front porches.
Lakeside’s unadorned concrete dock is the focal point for daytime fun. Swimming, fishing, tanning, strolling all are legitimate forms of relaxing.
Others prefer a leisurely walk along the tree-lined streets, enjoying the appealing cottages, many with inviting floral gardens. Some cottages date back to the town’s beginning in 1873. Most are seasonal family retreats that have served as a summer getaway for generations. A few hundred hardy souls call Lakeside home year-round.
The old-growth hardwoods that predominate the parks and properties of Lakeside bring beauty, birds and relief from stifling summer days. Flower gardens, maintained by the help of many volunteers, are a trademark of Lakeside.
The bustling but small business district offers a break from the boredom of relaxation with an assortment of various shops. Candy, homemade donuts, ice cream, refreshing drinks and toys all offer refuge from the strain of having too much fun.
In the evening, variety shows running the gamut of entertainment usually draw a nice crowd. The magnetic dock also attracts toddlers, teens and seniors to watch the nightly disappearance of the sun behind Catawba Island.
As nice as all that is, the greatest asset of Lakeside is its friendly people. Lakeside is a family-centered, safe place to be.
Merchants routinely leave goods unsecured in front of their storefronts overnight with no theft of inventory. Pedestrians, bicyclists, skateboarders, golf carts and dogs walking their owners have the right of way over motorized vehicles.
The strictest parents casually set their children free to roam inside the gated community with no fear of harm whatsoever. Passersby walk up onto a porch, ask what game is being played, and are invited to join the fun.
Lakeside rightfully bills itself as the Chautauqua on Lake Erie. However, occasional discordant human interactions will naturally occur when 6,000 in-season visitors multiply the regular population tenfold. Still, two-way radios are the closest things to weapons that outfit the town’s entire security staff.
Youth groups roam the streets serenading local residents, not ransacking their homes. At an impromptu lemonade stand, a grandfather sings and plays a Gibson to attract customers.
Whether they arrive for a day or the summer, Lakesiders all come to relax and have fun. With all there is to do in the resort town, everybody gets their way.
Like the lady said, there are no sad faces in Lakeside. That is a valuable virtue for any town.