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An appreciation of summer in the lake-effect zone PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ozaukee Press   
Thursday, 03 August 2017 15:44

Denizens of eastern Wisconsin have been heard to wistfully wonder why their forebears chose to settle beside a body of water whose cold vapors often cancel spring and replace it with an extension of winter that can last well into May.
    They got their answer last weekend when the weather along the Lake Michigan littoral might well have ranked as the most delightful on the entire planet. The heat of a summer sun shining unimpeded through a perfect blue sky was cooled just enough by a lake breeze that, thanks to water temperatures in the 70s, was refreshing rather than chilling.
    In Port Washington, the glories of summer in the lake-effect zone brought a joyous convergence of residents and visitors to a downtown thrumming with activity.
    For residents, part of the reason their city’s downtown lakefront area is such a fine place to celebrate summer is that some of their tax dollars are being put to good use there. This is evident in the extraordinary necklace of public parks that embraces the water, from Upper Lake and Veterans to Rotary and Coal Dock parks at the harbor.
    At Coal Dock park, the long-needed installation of a guardrail along its splendid promenade made the deep-water dock a safer but still stunning vantage point from which to appreciate an ever-changing nautical panorama.
     Across the harbor, the north breakwater this summer became a recreational phenomenon. An improvement campaign that began with a desperate (and ultimately successful) attempt by city officials to persuade the federal government to shore up the failing breakwater evolved into a project that added amenities that transformed the protective arm of the harbor into an easy-to-negotiate, half-mile-long walkway over the water. On calm-weather days, people by the hundreds join a virtual breakwater parade to experience Lake Michigan up close and behold the pretty city on its shore from the pierhead lighthouse.
    As important as those tax-supported features are, the fact is that much of what makes summer in downtown Port Washington so enjoyable is provided by the private sector. Let’s count the ways.
    The tremendously popular farmers market on Main Street, a Saturday morning ritual enjoyed as much as a social gathering as for its abundant offerings of fresh produce, is funded by Port Main Street from fees assessed on downtown business and property owners.
    A number of the events that enliven the summer, including the Race the Harbor bike races, Pirate Fest and the Paramount Music Festival, are funded in part by the Port Washington Tourism Council, as are the visits by the tall ship Denis Sullivan, using revenue from the room tax paid by the city’s two hotels and two bed-and-breakfast businesses.
    Private sponsors and organizations fund two big entertainment events, Fish Day and Lionsfest, as well the Saturday beer gardens in Lake Park. Even the city’s Fourth of July parade is paid for by business sponsors.
    Individual businesses are the mainstay of the downtown’s summer appeal, and shops and restaurants are busy with tourist traffic. Crowded sidewalk dining areas lend the city the atmosphere of a thriving resort town.
    A lively entrepreneurial spirit adds to the vibrancy. Ozaukee Press readers learned in a front page feature story last week that John Reichert, sculptor and co-proprietor of the Chocolate Chisel, has turned his creative energy to making exotically flavored ice cream in the Grand Avenue chocolate shop.
    On the opposite end of the downtown, award-winning brewmaster Adam Draeger has begun the process of turning the American Legion clubhouse on Lake Street into a brewpub.
    On top of all the other good news about fun in the sun in downtown Port, we can add the assurance of a plentiful supply of two fundamental elements of the rites of summer—ice cream and beer.

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