“Is there anything good we can say about 2018? Only this: It got us out of 2017,” writes Dave Barry in his version of 2018 – the year in review. We can concur on that – to a degree. Actually, 2018 was a very good year for Crystal Beach. Practically everywhere one looked, there was growth and development; houses being rehabbed; new businesses opening and a new park under construction at our public Bay Beach waterfront. Lots of new people have moved into the area, many from the Greater Toronto Area. What was once an enclave of mostly American summers-only residents has grown into a full-blown year-round community.
The Friends of Crystal Beach has been busy this past year, cementing its relationship with both the new and the old village, once nearly abandoned when the Crystal Beach Amusement Park closed in 1989. The FOCB and the community went through some very rough times before investors and buyers became aware of what a great location and potential awaited them in Crystal Beach. Now, we have new houses and sub-divisions all over the place and, Hallelujah! No high rise in sight. Now, that was an epic fight and it was pretty much over before 2018 although not soon forgotten. Instead, we have a beautiful park under construction at our public beach on Erie Road near Schooley. Some grants, town funding as well as community donations are making this possible. The Ridgeway Lions Club spearheaded a drive to fund a new playground at the park and, with the help of the Friends of Crystal Beach, it will be open and ready in late spring of 2019 – just in time for children to enjoy some fun at our fabulous public beach with the million-dollar view.
The FOCB began the year with its slate of future events for the community. By March, concert coordinator June Chipp announced the Waterfront Concert line-up for the season. McPherson’s Rant started the Free Sunday concerts at Waterfront Park on July 15; followed by The Saltshakers on July 22; then the ever-popular Toronto All Star Band on August 12 and finally, Simple Gesture on August 19. Although June has resigned as concert coordinator, the music will play on as the FOCB has already booked the Toronto All Stars for 2019. Announcement of the concert series bookings will be available as soon as possible so that people can set aside four Sunday evenings to enjoy free music and fun.
The Fourth Annual Circle of Art was held on July 21. Thanks to Gayle Martineau and her crew and it has grown bigger and better every year. Artists have already reserved a spot for the Fifth Annual Circle of Art to be held on July 20, 2019.
It was during the hottest part of the summer that the FOCB lost one of its most loyal members. Judy LaCroix died in her home of natural causes. She was a stalwart member of the Crystal Beach Beautification Committee as well as constant presence and help for the FOCB. In fact, it has been noted that Judy was the first FOCB member to suggest that all meetings be taped for the record, a policy that FOCB uses to this day. God speed, Judy. We really do miss you.
Unfortunately, the annual End of Summer Parade was postponed in 2018. There was too much construction going on in the staging area (behind the West End Arena) and along the parade route. Hopefully, the majority of the construction will be over by Labour Day in 2019 and the parade can return with a proper send-off to Summer.
By Thanksgiving (October 8, 2018,) the Fourteenth Annual Crystal Beach 5K Walk/Run was history, having taken place on October 6, a beautiful fall day. Over 500 participated and most will be back for the 2019 event on October 12, 2019. The Friends of Crystal beach was a major sponsor for the event which all started with an FOCB idea for a fund-raiser back in 2005. Karen Davis-Matthews, one of the FOCB coordinators for the race took part in a race of her own: to get to the hospital in time to give birth to her son Jimmy. The FOCB welcomes its newest member! Now new mommy Karen can relax a bit. Her much-appreciated help as secretary and web mistress will be missed by all members as she focuses her attention on her new little one.
The Christmas Season has always offered hope and challenges to the FOCB. This year, we participated once again in the fund-raiser for the new playground at the public beach park in Bay Beach along with the Ridgeway Lions. Spreading Christmas Cheer, held on December 8 was a festive roast beef dinner catered by the Lions, hosted by the FOCB with a musical tribute by the Sherkston Trinity Singers. The proceeds went to the nearly-reached goal for the playground which has been given the go-ahead for completion in the spring.
The FOCB provided food for the Lions’ annual Community Christmas Dinner which fed over 175 a full turkey dinner on December 17.
Much of what the FOCB has been able to do in the community is due to its bingo. Funding comes from the twice monthly bingos where the FOCB is represented by member volunteers. Without their help, we would not be able to fund our events and contributions to the community.
A couple of our directors have retired from the hard work of helping the FOCB. Their contributions will be missed, and we hope that we can fill the gaps left behind by their leaving. The Friends of Crystal Beach will relax for a few days before starting to plan for a very eventful 2019.