Cassadaga community gathers at the beach

CASSADAGA – On Sunday, the Cassadaga community came out to enjoy the beginning of the beach season.

Beach director Tammie Wichlacz said, “It’s summer. I just want everyone to have a good time.”

The Kokomo Time Band with Spencer Drake on bass guitar, Brian Bundy on guitar, Jim Steffan on drums, and Jeff McCheskey on keyboard played some feel good summer sounds. The band is billed as playing “the Best of ’50s, ’60s, ’70s oldies, Calypso, Cajun and Tex-Mex.”

There was free popcorn, and Ed “Smokey” Sisson, Wichlacz’s dad, manned the grill to prepare hot dogs that were sold for $1.

Artificial flowers and grass decorated the area. Lifeguards were clad in grass skirts over their red T-shirts and shorts. Lifeguard Tyson Gugino was a good sport about this, playing basketball on the court in his unusual costume. Later he took his turn at the waterfront, sitting on the dock still wearing the skirt.

While he did not know the temperature of the water he said, “It’s warm.”

The youngest children played in the sand or swam accompanied by a parent. Those a little older, played volleyball or basketball or tried out the swings. Some cannonballed off the side of the deck or swam out to the raft to dive from it. The swimming area was marked by ropes and bleach bottles and the lifeguards kept a sharp eye out.

The “more mature” residents sat in their lawn chairs or at picnic tables enjoying the band and conversation. Village Clerk Roxanne Astry talked to Kathy Wise who introduced herself as Mama Wise. She explained that she has five sons ranging in age from 11 to 22.

“The kids have grown up at this beach,” she said. If the boys weren’t swimming, they were fishing.

John Sipos quipped, “The fishing pole was how I knew he was one of your boys.”

“I’d pray for rain so I could get something done at home,” said Astry, whose children are now grown.

Wichlacz is looking forward to a good season.

Swimming lessons, which start today, are from 10 a.m to 1 p.m. and during that time the beach is not open for other swimmers.

After lessons, the beach is open. The kids come back for crafts or other special events, while there is an opportunity for everyone to swim.

On Monday through Saturday the beach is open until 7 p.m. On Sunday, the beach is open 12 to 6 p.m.

She said, “I have a good crew.”

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