By Bruce Stambaugh
There’s never a rainy day at Lakeside, Ohio, making it the perfect summer vacation spot for all ages.
Sure, it rains at Lakeside. It’s in Ohio after all and on the shallow, sometimes precarious south shore of Lake Erie. That doesn’t mean the weather puts a damper on vacationing visitors, some who come from California and other foreign countries.
The weather, no matter how fierce, can’t quash Lakeside’s infectious community spirit. Sunshine or downpour, you can witness Lakesiders being Lakesiders wherever you go in the little resort town populated with quaint cottages and genial folks.
If it does rain, which it did on more than one occasion during our latest week in the Chautauqua on Lake Erie, no one dismays. Plenty of great activities await, with gaggles of polite people to encounter.
The new splash park is a cool hit with youngsters on a hot summer’s day. If the weather denies them that chance, you can likely find them sitting on one of the many inviting front porches that distinguish Lakeside cottages and homes.
A wise, gray-haired grandma centers a wicker loveseat, arms embracing grandchildren. They read aloud, do word games, Sudoku, or tell family stories, true and otherwise.
If three generations can’t enjoy a rousing round of miniature golf under the canopy of old-age hardwoods, the family won’t grow bored. They might turn to board games, Scrabble, chess, checkers, or Monopoly.
Thanks to its Chautauqua pillars of religion, education, arts and entertainment, and recreation, Lakeside is known for many engaging activities. Since 1928, shuffleboard has topped the sporting list historically.
Tennis, too, has its fair play at Lakeside. Families, couples, teams, and playing partners ply clay and paved courts for fun and competition.
Should it storm, chairs soon form a tight ring around antique dining room tables, cards are shuffled, and the competitive spirits are expended differently. Instead of power drinks to keep them going, homemade sweet tea and lemonade hit the spot.
Around the two-mile jogging trail that rings Lakeside’s boundary flows a steady stream of fitness. If the weather is too ugly to brave, brainpower replaces muscle power through summer reading or a spirited round of dominoes with family, friends and visitors.
The Lakeside dock is the centerpiece of the summer sun worshippers. Young swimmers, sailors, fishing generations and sun soakers congregate to do their things. In the event that the dock is closed due to inclement weather or northerly gales that swamp the cement pier with crashing waves, alternative plans are made with few complaints.
The handful of Lakeside’s eclectic restaurants and niche cafes, where scores of high school and college students earn a summer’s wage, offer plenty of fare and latitude to accommodate all. Patience whets the appetite for homemade donuts and refreshing ice cream.
Even on the sunniest of days, hundreds of folks hungry for other kinds of food are filled to capacity by the rich stories offered by the weekly chaplains. It’s as cerebral as it is churchy.
Weather-resistant, creatively designed indoor activities abound for children, while adults pick and choose between lectures, programs and displays. Nearly every week, some sort of special community function is offered.
Evenings bring out a large portion of the town’s population for a medley of performances in historic Hoover Auditorium. Others linger dockside basking in the glow of another inspiring sunset, sometimes only minutes after the end of an all-day rain.
Rain or shine, there really are no rainy days at Lakeside, Ohio.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2013
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