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Halloween this weekend

Put-in-Bay celebrates Halloween the fourth weekend of October each year. Hundreds of costumed characters wander the streets of the downtown district enjoying a final weekend of live entertainment and fun at Put-in-Bay as the summer resort season draws to a close. Several of the island taverns host theme parties and some have Costume Contests for their customers.
Both the Jet Express and Miller Boat Line are operating this weekend. See their websites for scheduled times.

Miller Boat Line Sponsors US Brig Niagara

Miller Boat Line has a long, rich history steeped in the Bass Islands of Lake Erie’s western basin.
This September the ferry boat company that was established eight years before the cornerstone was laid for the Perry Memorial at Put-in-Bay will make the largest contribution to the celebration of the Battle of Lake Erie’s Bicentennial by sponsoring the appearance of the US Brig Niagara.
Niagara was not Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s flagship. That was the US Brig Lawrence, named after Perry’s close friend Captain James Lawrence who when down with the Chesapeake and is credited with coining the phrase “Dont Give Up the Ship.” Perry had these words sewn onto a motto flag that flew on the Lawrence.
But shortly after the Battle of Lake Erie began the Lawrence lay battered and nearly de-masted. Perry made the life altering decision to strike the motto flag, order a longboat be lowered and he be rowed across enemy cannon fire to the Niagara which had little damage and had been lagging behind.
“The Battle of Lake Erie was a pivotal point in American history,” said Maggie Beckford, Executive Director of the Put-in-Bay Chamber of Commerce, and President of the Lake Erie Islands Historical Society the past nine years. “This celebration, with the many tall ships over Labor Day weekend not only has historical significance, but also will have far reaching economic impact on this area.”
Ms. Beckford said the Chamber could not afford the $35,000 required to secure Niagara at Put-in-Bay during the event.
“All the ports wanted her,” Beckford said. “Miller Boat Line gave us–the entire island community– a wonderful gift for the Bicentennial.”
Niagara will give dockside tours during her time in port over Labor Day weekend and will take part in the mock battle of the engagement between the British and American fleets on September 10, 1813.
Julene Market, who along with brothers Bill and Scott own Miller Boat Line, said the boat line felt it was important to make sure the Brig Niagara was at Put-in-Bay during the Tall Ship Festival.
“I think we all feel this is where she belongs during this important time,” Ms. Market said. “It was something we wanted to do for our community.”
Ms. Beckford acknowledged that Miller Boat Line does extensive promotion of Put-in-Bay (South Bass Island) and Middle Bass as vacation destination through its website, social media, and maintaining a sustainable relationship with print, broadcast and Internet media, and blogging communities.
“It’s rare you find a business that promotes the destination far more than their own business,” Ms. Beckford said. “Miller’s advertising dollars really benefit everyone at Put-in-Bay.”

Browns’ Hughes and Robertson attending Browns Backers Rib Burn-off

Meet Cleveland Browns linebacker Craig Robertson and nose tackle John Hughes at the Lake Erie Islands Chapter of the Browns Backers’ annual Rib Burn-Off on Saturday, June 15, from 11 to 5 pm at the Sand Bar, 380 Main Street, Put-in-Bay. Both players will be available for photos and autographs and a limited number of posters of the players will be available for sale the day of the event. Purchase of a poster includes a photo of the signing for authenticity that will be emailed to the buyer. Both Hughes, #93, and Robertson, #53, are current Browns players. Local restaurants compete for “Best Ribs” and a “People’s Choice Award”. Entry is $15 per team and teams must hold or be sponsored by a licensed food service provider. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for kids 6 to 10, and children 5 and under are admitted free with an adult. Admission includes a chance to win a door prize, live entertainment, and the opportunity to bid on silent auction items, including Cleveland Browns related merchandise. Vendors will sell ribs, side dishes, desserts, and beverages at the event. Ribs will be judged by members of the media and the general public. All proceeds benefit local charities.

27th Annual Blessing of the Fleet May 7

A long tradition of blessing vessels before their spring voyages to fish and transport goods to port villages and cities, will repeat itself at Put-in-Bay for the 27th time on Tuesday, May 7, on Fox’s Dock downtown.
Put-in-Bay’s annual “Blessing of the Fleet” will begin at 11 am with island clergy giving a Mariner’s Blessing to each of the passing vessels that will include ferries from the Jet Express, Miller Boat Line, and the Middle Bass Island Ferry.
The Put-in-Bay School Choir will peerform on the dock, and refreshments will be served following the program.
Rescue and patrol boats from Rescue Marine, the US Coast Guard Marblehead Station, the Put-in-Bay Police Harbor Patrol, and the Ottawa County Sheriff Department are expected.
The Sheriff Department will bring two watercraft, the final vessel to be blessed will be the “Bruce E. Mettler,” commissioned in 2012 in honor of Deputy Mettler who died in the line of duty in 1981. Deputy Mettler was also Put-in-Bay’s EMT.
Invitations to the blessing were also extended to Homeland Security, the US Border Patrol, local water taxis, and other individuals and organizations that utilize the lake for transportation.
Most years a medical helicopter, Toledo St. Vincent Hospital’s Lifeflight, also participates.

Drive out Hunger benefits Toledo and Cleveland

Put-in-Bay Employees Care (PIBEC) in conjunction with Miller Boat Line is collecting non-perishable and personal care items on Tuesday, July 17, for donations to Toledo’s Cherry Street Mission and the Cleveland Food Bank.
As an incentive, the Miller Ferry will offer adults donating an item a $2 discount on a round-trip fare July 17, and kids $1 discount. Items are already being collected on Put-in-Bay at Frosty’s, Pasquale’s, and Put-in-Bay Brewing Company.
“Pasquale’s has already filled one container from employee donations,” said restaurant manager Ty Winchester.
Suggested items include canned meats and tuna, meal mixes, peanut butter, canned vegetables, cases of water, sugar, hot chocolate, coffee, laundry detergent, body soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, and tooth brushes.
Please, no expired items.
PIBEC formed in early 2012 by long time island employees who wanted to take on projects to benefit the island community. They have cleaned public beach areas, helped plant flower baskets for the Put-in-Bay Garden Club, pulled 40 55-gallon bags of Garlic Mustard, an invasive plant species, and helped mulch two of the island’s nature trails.
Put-in-Bay’s St. Paul’s Episcopal Church has a food pantry for those in need on the island, but PIBEC organizers said islanders are fortunate to not need to rely on the food pantry.
“Certainly we don’t have the need that Toledo and Cleveland has,” Winchester said.
The group will also accept cash donations for the purchase of items to donate.
“We’ll happily take your change,” Winchester said. “It’s amazing what $10 can buy at Sam’s Club, and change adds up fast.”

Put-in-Bay readies for pyrate invasion

English Governor John Broward has issued an alert for South Bass islanders to be on the look-out for pyrates.
Pyrate King “Mad Dog” is known to haunt the waters surrounding the Lake Erie Islands, and Gov. Broward wants his local militia to be ready to defend the island pot of Put-in-Bay.
“Mad Dog is a skallywag of the worst sort,” said Broward, nicknamed the “English Coward” by Mad Dog himself. “He sails into port and attacks our people looking for some silly, long-lost treasure.”
The crazy Pyrate King has been raiding Put-in-Bay in search of his lost treasure for many years, always around the last weekend in June. Cursed by the infamous pyrate Mary Read, who stole Mad Dog gold, the Pyrate King must stay aboard his vessel 361 days a year, only allowed four days on land to search for his missing treasure,
Put-in-Bay will celebrate Pyrate Fest IV: The Revenge, June 22-25, with lots of activities for the entire family.
The Revenge kicks off with the Pyrate Invasion on Friday afternoon, June 22.
For a complete list of events all four days, visit Put-in-Bay’s official Pyrate Fest website.

Island Heros honored at 26th Blessing of the Fleet May 8

Traditionally, Blessing of the Fleet, a century’s old tradition that has its roots in Mediterranean fishing villages, is meant to ensure safe travel, and a prosperous season. The 26th annual Blessing of the Fleet at Put-in-Bay on Tuesday, May 8, will also be in memory of a Put-in-Bay man who sacrificed his life in the service of his community.

EMT Bruce E. Mettler, also an Ottawa County Sheriff’s Deputy, was killed nearly 30 years ago on a rescue mission to Kelleys Island to help Police Chief Norbert McKillips.

Maggie Beckford, Executive Director of the Put-in-Bay Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Bureau, said the Chamber is recognizing Deputy Mettler, and EMS volunteers Duane Dress and Michael Sweeney, who were also killed in the plane crash December 9, 1983. The accident also claimed the life of the pilot, Port Clinton Police Sgt. Robert Rigoni.

Ms. Beckford said Governor John Kasich is issuing a proclamation for this year’s Blessing that names Mettler, Dress, Sweeney, and Rigoni. The proclamation was made possible through the efforts of Chip Weiant, she said. Weiant, manager of Island Resorts at Put-in-Bay in the 1980’s, came up with the idea in 1986 to hold an annual Blessing of the Fleet. He now is the Program Director for the BBB National Center for Character Ethics.

Clergy from Put-in-Bay’s St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Mother of Sorrows Catholic Church, and St. John’s at the Bay Lutheran Church will give the blessings, beginning at 11 a.m. from Fox’s Dock downtown.  The Put-in-Bay School Choir will perform, and lite refreshments will be served.

Island ferries from the Jet Express, Miller Boat Line, and Middle Bass Island Ferry will be represented along with the Put-in-Bay Police Department’s Harbor Patrol, and vessels from island based water taxis, emergency services from South Bass and Middle Bass Islands, and the mainland. Vessels from the US Coast Guard Marblehead Station are scheduled to attend, and the Ottawa County Sheriff Department is bringing their 33-foot and 27-foot vessels.

St. Vincent Hospital’s Lifeflight and aircraft from Griffing Flying Service and BD Aero are also expected to attend. The Chamber also invited representatives from Homeland Security, and the US Border Patrol, to the event, Ms. Beckford said.

This year’s Blessing coincides with the Ottawa County Sheriff Department naming their 27-foot patrol boat the “Bruce E. Mettler.” Ms. Beckford said that vessel would be the last to be blessed.

“We haven’t done much to honor Bruce,” said Jeffrey Hickman, Chief Deputy at Ottawa County’s Sheriff Department. “We thought this was something we could do as a lasting reminder of him, and that doing it during the Blessing of the Fleet was appropriate.”

Chief Deputy Hickman said the vessel already bears Deputy Mettler’s name, but won’t be officially named until the week of Blessing of the Fleet.

Mettler, who was Chief EMT at Put-in-Bay, and volunteer EMTs Dress, and Sweeney, were picked up by Sgt. Rigoni in a small Cessna aircraft the evening of December 9, 1983 to go to Kelleys Island. Chief McKillips was reportedly having heart trouble.

According to later reports, attempts had been made to get St. Vincent’s Lifeflight or the Cleveland Metro helicopter into Kelleys to help Chief McKillips, but the fog was too dense for either to get in. Rigoni, a seasoned pilot, had no trouble in his flight from Port Clinton to South Bass Island, but ran into dense fog between the islands.

Ms. Beckford, Chamber Director since 2001, was a reporter for the Port Clinton News Herald 29 years ago, and covered the accident story, and the men’s funerals.

“It was a shocking, and emotional experience; a small community losing so many people in such a tragic accident while in the process of trying to help another,” she said.

“Islanders who had winterized their boats put them back in the water, and went to search for their friends,” she added. “They weren’t going to let them stay in the lake any longer than they had to.”

“I remember it was windy, and bitter cold, but they’d found all four of the men within days, and brought them home. That sense of community is one reason why I eventually moved here in 1986.”

Shannon from Sylvania is this week’s winner

Congratulations to Shannon from Sylvania, OH, this week’s winner of the Jet Express VIP round-trip tickets, and a golf cart from Park Bike & Cart Rental, downtown Put-in-Bay. You can win too! Just signup for our Put-in-Bay “escape plan” newsletter.

Joseph from Parma wins giveaway

Congratulations to Joseph from Parma, OH, winner of this week’s Put-in-Bay “escape plan” giveaway. Joseph won by subscribing to the Put-in-Bay Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Bureau monthly newsletter. He was automatically entered into the weekly drawing.
You can win too! Just click on the eNews link and signup for the “escape plan.” We’ll help you plan your island escape this summer.

Put-in-Bay April & May Opening Dates

Businesses on the island are beginning to open this weekend. Most are open just on the weekend until May, some will open daily. We have dates for April, and early May openings.
Pasquale’s Cafe will open Friday, April 13, for breakfast and lunch, weekends only until May. Opening Saturday, April 14, for weekends through April are Misty Bay Boutique, the Surf Shop, and the Round House. The Round House holds its annual “whiskey light” ceremony on Sunday, April 15.
The Downtown Bus will begin operation on Saturday, also, on weekends until April 27 at which time it will operate daily. Island Bike & Cart Rental’s Lime Kiln Dock location will also open Saturday for weekends, and weather permitting. Mariner’s Locker is a “maybe” this weekend as well.
If you’ve been craving a chicken dinner from the Chicken Patio, it opened ahead of schedule on Friday. The Chicken Patio will be open just on the weekends in April. Also opening earlier than expected this weekend is Frosty’s. Cameo Pizza just alerted us on Facebook that they are also opening this weekend.
Put-in-Bay Winery opens this weekend also, and we have been unable to confirm, but believe, that Heineman Winery also is opening this weekend, as is Mr. Ed’s.
The Sand Bar Lounge, Island General Grocery Store, and the Island Hardware Store have been open throughout the winter, and are open daily now.
Next Friday, April 20, Frosty’s holds its annual Opening Night Buffet, even though they opened this weekend. Frosty’s opens daily on May 4. Opening on April 20 for weekends until May are The Put-in-Bay Brewery, the Boathouse, and the Country House. Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial’s Visitor center also opens April 20.
The following weekend, April 27, the Park Hotel will be open. On April 27, Perry’s Cave, and the War of 18 Holes opens, and the Village Bathhouse in DeRivera Park will also be open.
May 4, the Crew’s Nest, Butterfly House, and the BayShore Resort Hotel open for business. Island Bike & Cart Rental’s Jet Dock location will be open May 4-6, and then daily beginning May 11. Adventure Bay opens on May 5, and the Lake Erie Islands Historical Museum will open sometime in mid-May.