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100 years of sand and sun to be celebrated at Blast on the Beach

HAMBURG — A century ago, Hamburg Town Supervisor William Kronenberg dedicated a flagpole at the Hamburg Town Beach, to open the new lakefront attraction for what was then a rural town outside the city of Buffalo. The year was 1914. Charlie Chaplin made his film debut, the Panama Canal was inaugurated and Babe Ruth made his debut with the Boston Red Sox. World War I had just begun and the first income tax form was issued. Eggs cost $.35 a dozen and gasoline was $.15 per gallon. Most homes had no indoor plumbing, but were going for about $6,000.

This year, the Hamburg Rejuvenation Project has incorporated the 100th anniversary of the Hamburg Town Beach into the annual Blast on the Beach celebration on July 26, with a patriotic theme as befits the first celebration, 100 years ago. A tree will be dedicated to Kronenberg, as well as a newly installed plaque, to echo that flagpole dedication, years ago. Since World War I had just begun when the beach first opened, the committee decided to incorporate a patriotic theme, to recognize the aura of patriotism that was so prevalent back then.

To that end, committee co-chairperson Laura Hahn discovered that the Star Spangled Banner was written 200 years ago, this year. Since the national anthem was sung during the first beach ceremony, it will also be performed this year, in conjunction with a number of historical nods.

First, a series of 12 boards will display photographs submitted by residents that depict the town throughout the last 100 years.

“We worked pretty hard, getting those photographs together,” Hahn said. “Photos make [history] more interesting. A lot of people are really interested in local history, which is important. It’s always good to learn.”

Cut-out boards with holes for people’s faces will also be available, so attendees can take home a photo of their own faces on historical bodies. A couple dressed in 1914-era bathing suits will be walking around, as well.

A family member of Kronenberg’s will also be in attendance.

Hahn said that, in addition to historical displays, the committee tried to “put a modern twist on historic events.”

In 1909, before the beach was opened, a nearby subdivision was planned. At that property’s groundbreaking, a hot air balloon ascended and caught fire in the air. The rider had to parachute out of it, landing safely on the beach below. To recognize that, skydivers will land on the beach during the blast, for what Hahn called “a safer way to recreate that [event].

“We tried to incorporate the history as much as possible,” she said. “And we try to make [the Blast on the Beach] a little different, each year.”

She said that the Rejuvenation Committee is careful to coordinate with the vendors, so that stands’ offerings do not overlap one another. And while there will be food and drink for sale, she said that residents are welcome to bring a picnic lunch, for the day.

“We try to keep the prices low, so as not to gauge our attendees,” she said. “And we want families to be able to come. If you like, bring a picnic lunch so you don’t have to spend any money on food, or buy it from our vendors. You can spend as little or as much as you want; it’s up to you.” The committee also runs a hot dog stand at the event, with all proceeds’ going directly back to hosting the blast, each year.

The committee has been working since the tents came down from last year’s blast, and Hahn said right now, members are all just hoping the weather holds out. “We put our hearts and souls into it, all year,” she said. “And we’re excited to see it come together.”

The Blast on the Beach is sponsored by the Hamburg Rejuvenation Project, Hamburg Gaming & Buffalo Raceway, Appolson’s Performance Center and Fisher Bus Service.

The festivities all kick off at 9 a.m. with the 24th annual Dash-N-Splash Family Fun Run, and will continue until Skylighters lights off fireworks at 9:45 p.m. Events take place throughout the day, and those include watercraft rides by Appolson’s, longboard and kayak rentals, swimming, volleyball, a hot dog eating contest at 2 p.m., a sand castle contest from 1-3:30 p.m., the opening ceremony and plaque dedication at 3 p.m., dancing on the beach, skydivers at 7 p.m. and Lance Diamond wrapping it all up with a stage performance from 7:30-9:30 p.m.

The Hamburg Town Beach is located at 4420 Lakeshore Road in Athol Springs.

Parking for this event is at The Lake Shore Little League, located at 4928 Rogers Road, with a shuttle provided by Fisher Bus Service, starting at 4 p.m.


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