In mid-February, we had a telephone call from Charlie Brooks from CBS. He explained he was working on a story
about the bad Put-in-Bay Winter and how 90%-plus surface of the Great Lakes was ice covered. Bad winter? What was he talking
about? We told him it was the best winter in years. Just look at the posts on the Put-in-Bay Facebook Page from those who were catching big walleye. Just ask those who have snowmobiles, the ATVs and airboats if they are having fun this winter playing on the ice, and you will find them not talking bad winter.
With record snowfall and reports of ice 20- inches-plus thick, snowmobilers have been crossing the lake in droves to come to Put-in-Bay. Snowmobilers stopping at Tipper’s sometimes had to park their sleds across the street in DeRivera Park because there were so many. Stories about snowmobilers stopping at several islands, including across the border on Pelee Island, were not uncommon.
With new technology, there were several videos on the web showing snowmobilers crossing the lake. Those little cameras that
can be attached to a snowmobile helmet show exactly what it is like to zoom across the lake. Then there are the unusual
stories. One of the best we heard was about Mike Byrnes and DJ Parkers venture this Put-in-Bay Winter. One morning in mid-February, they headed to the mainland, Mike on cross-country skis and DJ on his bicycle.
When Bud Stonerook’s little car broke down on the ice between one day between Middle Bass and North Bass, friends got together with ATVs and towed the car back to North Bass for him. A group of people also jogged across the ice from the mainland to Put-in-Bay Valentine’s Day weekend. It was an impromptu thing organized by a group of friends.
Unfortunately, there can be accidents. Melinda Myers from the Crew’s Nest was coming back to Put-in-Bay from Middle Bass and had a snowmobile accident which put her in the hospital. Workers working on the village dock project loss a vehicle through the ice off Catawba. They were planning on hauling huge dock cribs for the project over on the ice, but gave that idea up and apparently are opting for the lake to open up so they can be barged to Put-in-Bay.
Granted, there were those on the island who had mixed emotions about this winter. Bernie and Mary Ann Meyers had their furnace break down. They live on the West Shore, and as everyone knows, even with a working furnace, the bitter cold wind
coming off the lake from the west can be a problem at times. They weren’t the only ones with furnace problems. Others experienced frozen pipes, and so much snow in their driveways they had a difficult time getting out and about. Mark Mathys’s Put-in-Bay Resort had a water line split over the lobby which caused considerable damage.
Gary Kowalski had to start limiting gasoline purchases at the island gas station because there were so many snowmobilers and
ATVs wanting gasoline because of the great ice conditions. With long-term weather forecasts calling for cooler than normal March weather, he is concerned about when he will be able to make the first fuel run on Cantankerus to replenish the island fuel supply.
Love it or hate it, this will certainly be a Put-in-Bay Winter to remember.