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By Peter Huston

Now that the holidays are past we can concentrate on what we enjoy, that peaceful quiet and “isolated splendor” that winter brings us here. But, the second season of Put-in-Bay starts with a ‘thank you’ first, then off to ice fishing. This is a note of deep thanks to all the people, still here on island and those that come here all season long that made 2016 possible. I like to think of it as the power of community.img_4526

Here in Put-in-Bay, that sense of community is felt all year long, but never more than right now as we begin to envision what will be ahead in 2017. You can see it in the turnout at our off-season events and gatherings (both on and off island), the enthusiasm we share with our island friends, and the reminder that the genuine warmth we have shared with those who visit here all season long was appreciated.

Last year was an amazing season. The weather, especially in the early months was so inviting, week after week, that it “moved” people to want to venture here, and to come back again. They came week after week and the net result was one of the best seasons we have had here on South Bass Island. The overnight lodging numbers were up, our businesses were busy, and the weather gods smiled on us more than once (love those sunny days in October). Thanks to the believers here, the many unsung hard workers and volunteers (you know who you are) that made so many others’ visit to Put-in-Bay memorable. Thank you!

A visit to Put-in-Bay is more than the sum of beautiful “Instagram’ pictures, “snap chat” moments and “Facebook’ posts. It’s what stays with us, that special collective something that reminds us later where we have been. It is really the “emotional memories” that will stay with us for a lifetime. That warm greeting you received as you board the ferry, the smile from a server when you get your coffee after a great meal, the funny stories that the island cave guides share with you, or learning a little island history from a ranger while taking in the view from atop Perry’s Victory. It’s all wrapped together in that intangible special sense of place that we provide.

There are lots of great places to visit, some more beautiful, some more awe inspiring, but none more emotionally memorable than right here in Put-in-Bay. I have been all over the United States and invariably conversations about where we live comes up. I am always amazed about the positive reactions and great stories I get in return, when I share that I live “on an island in Lake Erie, know as Put-in-Bay”.

For 2017, the Put-in-Bay Chamber of Commerce will work to build on the successes we shared together in 2016. Dedicated chamber leadership, selfless hard work by friends, and support from our members, made this opportunity possible. We see endless possibilities for expanding upon this effort last year, to share more broadly and deeply that feeling of fun and pure joy that we get here.

In the coming year we will have more places to stay than ever before, we will have some new employee housing choices with affordable condos to buy for those ready to put down roots. We will have great customer services available, new business ventures that will amaze you, and wonderful first time events like the day long Put-in-Bay Music Festival Concert June 10th at Perry’s Victory.

Our mission will be to explore new ways to reach out to our visitors, expanding our efforts to take advantage of great opportunities that lie ahead. And even though we can’t predict the weather, we will be ready to provide that extra enthusiasm that makes a rainy day at the bay still as wonderful as the sunny “perfect” day.

That is the power of community, that is the intangible extra that we can share, that is the emotional memory that we call Put-in-Bay. So let it snow, bring on the ice, we will be waiting for you to return this spring for the best season yet.

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