Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Fourth Of July On Oneida Lake

 The view east along Oneida Lake's south shore, just west of Lakeport.
Sylvan Beach is in the far distance at the left of this photo.

Well, the Fourth of July didn't turn out quite the way we planned - but it was even better than I could have hoped.  You see, around 7PM on the 4th I checked my FB page, and saw a post from a local news outlet that Sylvan Beach was completely out of public parking - they were totally full.  Three hours before the fireworks were scheduled to begin, and there's no public parking left?  And thousands of people are still going to cram into the town on all of the side streets for a couple miles up and down the lake front for the next three hours?  Um, no thank you.  None of us are big on crowds, and I had visions of a complete family meltdown by the end of the evening (while we waited bumper-to-bumper for two hours to get out of a town roughly the size of five football fields, ten minutes from home).

My husband figured there had to be SOMEWHERE else we could hang out around the lake where we could see some fireworks, but not be stuck with the crowds of the world.  Google Maps is a wonderful thing.  A few minutes of browsing, and he saw a park on the south shore of Oneida Lake.  We could sit on the beach there, and see the fireworks from Sylvan Beach from a distance.  We wouldn't be close to the fireworks, but it wasn't likely to be crowded either.  So, around 8PM we set off to find the park.

 The boardwalk at Chapman Park.  We sat out at the end for the fireworks.

The park was pretty far along the south lake shore, and I was afraid we wouldn't be able to see much.  But, to our delight, the park not only had a beach, but also a playground and a boardwalk that extended a hundred feet or so out into the lake.  It was wonderful!  And there was virtually nobody there.  We took our folding chairs and a blanket, some snacks and lemonade, and set up our stuff at the end of the boardwalk.  There were a couple other families there, and a nice pair of older ladies we talked with too.  It was so peaceful, and the sky was clear as a bell.

 The view looking west along Oneida Lake.  The end of the park is on the left.

The kids played at the beach for a while, wading and playing with a sand castle someone else had built earlier in the day.  We went to the playground, then back out onto the boardwalk to watch the sunset.  (My camera battery went kaput just before sunset, and while I got some shots on my phone camera, I'm still figuring out how to download them.  Old dog, new tricks; I'll get it eventually.)  We could hear fireworks from residences all around the lake.  Several families were setting off lots of smaller fireworks.  (We heard lots of dogs barking when the bigger displays went up.)  We saw a few larger shells go up from what were probably fire stations on the north shore of the lake. 

As dusk fell, we could see the big displays starting up over Cicero and Baldwinsville to the west, then more larger fireworks from somewhere around South Bay, to the east.  Sylvan Beach does their fireworks later, usually right before 10PM, so they were the last to start.  We could see them northeast of where we were, a clear view across the water.  From that distance the fireworks were small, and we heard little of the sound from their explosions.  It was quite pretty, though.  The kids fussed a little about not being in the thick of the noise and excitement, but I don't think they really missed it that much.  I certainly didn't miss having to watch the kids every second in a crowd, especially PYY.  Here they could wander quite a distance and still be within sight, and safe.

 Looking back down the boardwalk, toward PYY playing in the sand on the left.

We had a lovely evening - the most peaceful 4th of July I can remember in my entire life.  We enjoyed being with just a few people, out on the lake, and seeing fireworks for miles around under the sunset sky while the stars came out.  Afterward, we made it home in 15 minutes.  (Princess Yakyak fell asleep about 30 seconds after we asked her to stop talking in the car - she was living up to her nickname, trying to keep herself awake, and when we imposed some silence, she ran out of steam with a thud.) 

 Sunset tree by the beach.

My husband and I want to go to the park again next year for the Fourth, only earlier so we can picnic and enjoy the beach longer.  Maybe we'll rustle up a box of sparklers for the kids, and catch some lightning bugs while we're at it.  Yep, we made a good memory this year - let's see if we can do it again next year.

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