Meryl Strichartz is a Kenosha resident and active board member of the Kenosha Community Sailing Center. She is also a member of the Kenosha Yacht Club and ally to many Kenosha harbor businesses and environmental groups. She is the owner of Lakeshore Pedal Tour and Career Coaches of Wisconsin. She has her MBA from UW-Parkside and has been involved with many Kenosha and Racine nonprofits.
“It’s nice out, in the high 30s, and it’s supposed to be in the mid 40s; nice day for a walk.” Yes, those words actually came out of my mouth today! It’s funny how time and place makes everything relative. As a hardened off Midwesterner, I don’t think twice about being out and about in such weather, and hope that we get good snow cover to insulate our soil and plants.
For me, wondering and anticipating what kind of winter we will have is a December thing. Although I can do without the blizzards and polar vortices, I do want there to be snow on the ground long enough to enjoy the white and not so long that it gets a dirty black crust. And, I spend much of December wondering if we will get our white Christmas.
Anticipation, as it turns out, plays a huge role in what I enjoy. Of course, it is important to be mindful and embrace the moment, and I do. I’m a big proponent of spontaneity and fun. But I also really enjoy the planning, hoping and dreaming of doing things and making things happen.
The anticipation of an activity is part of why I have really shifted to, wanting and giving “experiences” for holiday gifts this year. I have purchased lots of restaurant gift cards and am planning on getting an overnight stay at the Stella Hotel and an Anytime Fitness membership for some of my close family members. Whereas, objects often lose their significance over time, experiences create memories which tend to grow stronger over time.
This is why, I hope you will consider purchasing a seat on a Lakeshore Pedal Tour as a gift. It is definitely an experience worth having! Another great gift experience is a sailing course for your friends and family members. The Kenosha Community Sailing Center even offers a Family Sailing course which is a perfect way to enjoy time together, and gift cards for pedal boats and kayaks, too. The anticipation of these experiences helps make these gifts fun but what makes them memorable is experiencing the lake.
Lake Michigan is powerful in its beauty and magnitude. I believe that we are all made stronger by its strength and our proximity to it. It is no surprise then that we are such a giving community. I am particularly proud of the Kenosha Yacht Club and the Kenosha Community Sailing Center who, like so many organizations, have been collecting clothes and goods to donate to the Women’s & Children’s Horizons and the ELCA Outreach Center. ELCA gives to the neediest in our community. Then there is also The Big Bundle Up campaign that is collecting coats and warm clothing for the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha.
We give so much because we have so much to give. We live in a beautiful place and it is reflected in who we are. This is the special relativity of living in Kenosha. Seasons greetings and a Happy New Year to all.
See ya down at the lake – Meryl
(This article first appeared in the 12/16/21 issue of the Smart Reader)
NAUGHT AND NICE
Ahoy—Santa might put me on the naughty list because I have been so negligent about writing this blog but I have done some nice things too. Everything was going really well until three little (actually they are quite large) duckies arrived in the Kenosha harbor. Once they arrived, I found every bit of my spare time (of which I had very little) working out the logistics of renting them out for the Kenosha Community Sailing Center. I am happy to report that they booked up almost every weekend and will be back in the spring with two more duck pedal boats added to the fleet.
This summer was absolutely fabulous for me personally. In addition to helping make the duck rentals happen, I launched Lakeshore Pedal Tours in June and people had a blast all summer long. Who knew that a pedal bar could bring so much fun to our city? Next season, assuming COVID is kept at bay, I will offer individual seats and people can ride without having to book the entire bike. In either case, more fun will be had!
These two major endeavors were on top of my existing business, which I promise to tell you about in another blog but suffice it to say that I was very stretched. For years, I was a Racine/Kenosha Master Gardener volunteer and always looked forward to winter when the gardening catalogs would roll in and I had the down time to plan for the next season, but I have never been as happy as I am now to welcome the cold weather and some serious shopping therapy!
I was out and about this weekend, shopping and dining local. I hope you all were too. I know I saw a lot of people shopping downtown for Small Business Saturday, but I hope it doesn’t end there. I don’t need to recount or explain why Kenosha businesses have had a tough time of it…we all lived it. But if you can see it in your heart to go to a store and purchase your holiday gifts rather than Amazoning (is that a verb yet?), it will make a difference in our local economy. I’m not a purist, I love some of our chains and love the convenience of shopping online, but I also try to spread the “love.”
And if you “love” Kenosha as much as I do, you might want to consider purchasing a gift certificate from Visit Kenosha’s Swag shop. They are selling both Kenosha Gift Certificates and Downtown Kenosha Gift Certificates. These cards can be used at many local business partners’ establishments like Lakeshore Pedal Tours or the Kenosha Community Sailing Center. The gift cards can be used to purchase sailing classes, duck pedal boat or kayak rentals and rides on the Lakeshore Pedal Tours party bike, and there are lots of other places you can use them. The link to the Swag shop is below but I usually just type in “Visit Kenosha Swag” and click through to the shop. Either way will get you there and everyone will appreciate your “love.”
See ya down at the lake — in March!
(This article first appeared in the 12/2/21 issue of the Smart Reader)
As our summer winds down, I find myself starting to measure my nice days. This past weekend it was summmery in the morning and a thunderstorm was predicted to move in, so I pushed myself to go outside and enjoy the good weather, even though I just wanted to stay in and drink a coffee with my laptop.
We are done with youth sailing lessons down at the Kenosha Community Sailing Center and will try to finish strong with our rentals and private classes. Boats don’t usually get pulled until October, so we have one more month of good sailing. We also have waited all summer for the arrival of our new pedal boats. Hopefully by the time you are reading this, we will have three duck pedal boats for rent. We had ordered five but there has been a national shortage of fiberglass which delayed the production of our boats and we are only getting three this season. Who knew, right, sort of like the chicken wing shortage, there was just no predicting! In any case, the harbor is a photographed often and we hope that the yellow ducks which convey playfulness will make Kenosha look even more welcoming than it already is.
Lakeshore Pedal Tours has parties booked into October, so we know that there are plenty of people still interested in riding around town in the fall. I’m not sure if the cooler weather appeals to them or if they are not worried about the temperature because they know they are going to be drinking. We do offer trip insurance in case of bad weather, but I’m not sure Kenoshans care…apparently, we will drink in all kinds of weather!
In addition to savoring the warmer temperatures, I’m enjoying the late summer blooms. We have some very impressive garden areas and some gorgeous planters down along the lakefront. I’m at Union Park Tavern with the pedal trolley and love looking at the Cannas in the beautifully mosaiced huge pots in the park. I don’t know the story about how they were created, but it definitely looks like there were many creative people involved. They really define the park and make it a particularly appropriate site for the burgeoning Kenosha Art Market.
The streets are also filled with some pretty planters filled with a variety of flowers. I’m assuming that either the City of Kenosha or one of the downtown organizations is responsible for them. The gardens at Wolfenbuttel Park, especially the roses are stunning. It’s easy to take for granted all of this pretty city scaping and the care that goes into maintaining our parks. Simmons Island also has beautiful flower beds and the park is immaculately maintained. I think the group Keep Kenosha Beautiful helps on the island because I know I have seen throngs of high schoolers planting beds in the spring.
I’m hoping that in the future, we can have a native plant flower bed on the island. There is a rain garden near the beachhouse,but we could really use a pollinator patch. Root Pike WIN is holding a “Buzzed for Bees” fundraiser on Friday, September 24th, 4- 7pm at Public Craft Brewing Co. to help support their Pollinator Patch Program. Public’s is actually handcrafting a beer from the Wisconsin native Sumac plant (sounds interesting). For more information you can visit their website at rootpikewin.org
So, while we may be on the tail end of summer, we still have a lot of fun things on tap and beauty to appreciate both on lake and land.
See you down at the lake, Meryl
Check out www.lakeshorepedal.com
PAST, FUTURE AND THE MOMENT
Maybe you heard him or maybe you saw a social media post where Giannis Antetokounmpo talks about the difference between focusing on the past, the future or the moment. It was pretty insightful and very thought provoking. He went on to explain that for him, to focus on the past is about ego; the future is about pride; and that focusing on the moment, in the present,is about humility.
I thought it was really cool that he said it but I haven’t been able to fully get my head around it. I love the past. My own and everyone else’s. For me, history is so much around and in us. So, because I’m always getting into things…I’ve been helping the Kenosha Yacht Club book some live music. We have some great live music lined up for Friday nights (Sid Simo, Jordan Stocker, Mark Paffrath and Haley Klinkhammer) but I’ve been trying to find something different. I thought hey, how about Sing-A-Longs or acapella groups (not karaoke) and that brought me via YouTube to the Chordettes. How could you not love Mr. Sandman and Lollipop? Then I Googled them only to discover that they were from Sheboygan! In the Wikipedia site (a source we know is reliable, right), I read that they were heavily influenced by Barbershop music. Then I thought, hmm, I wonder if Kenosha has a barbershop quartet. I was surprised to learn that Kenosha had played a huge supporting role in the music’s past. Reportedly, in 1957, the Barbershop Society had been searching for a new building in the Chicago area (not sure if I think Kenosha is really part of the Chicago area, but we will save that for another blog) for it’s headquarters. The settled on an 18,000 square-foot Alford Mansion at 6315 Third Ave. Built at a cost of a half million dollars in 1933, to add stature and prestige to their Society (it was offered to the Society in 1957for the bargain price of $75,000.) They called it Harmony Hall and they used it as their headquarters until 1977 when they relocated to Nashville. This weekend, the Kenosha History Center is doing one of their Historical Walks around Library Square Park. It doesn’t include the Hall, which is on 3rd Avenue, but they have brochures and you can split off and do your own private walk. All this to say, I really love history.
Then there is the future and pride. Pride could practically be my middle name. I am proud to be an American, proud to live in Kenosha, proud to be associated with the Kenosha Community Sailing Center, proud of my kids and proud that there will be a Kenosha Pride, August 22nd at Veteran’s Memorial Park (not having it in June feels kinda funny but I’m trying to think of it like Christmas in July). The concept of pride, whether it be for LGBTQ or identification with other groups and causes has been central to my social consciousness. It is future oriented and that is where the focus should be.
Lastly, there is the present and humility. Giannis is right in that being mindful and present in the moment is the best place to be. But for me, the past and the future are inextricably tied to the present. I write these blogs to try and share what is going on around the harbor. I want you to know things like that on August 15th the fledgling Kenosha Art Market will be in Union Park Square and that on August 16th, the last adult sailing course of the season is going to be offered which you can sign up now. I want you to know that kenoshasailing.org rents kayaks and paddleboards so you can enjoy the water. I want to find a Sing-a-long group so we can all sing together and in September I’m gonna want us all to talk like pirates for Talk Like a Pirate Day. Ultimately, I think Giannis’ words are as powerful as his game, and I’m glad he made me think.
See ya down at the lake – Meryl
Check out www.lakeshorepedal.com
LISTING IS MORE THAN A NAUTICAL TERM
Ahoy—I love a good list. It is just so satisfying to cross something off. Whether it’s a grocery list, a to-do list “Siri-ied” to my phone or a bucket list. Striking through, checking off and deleting is just a small little life thrill. Sometimes, especially on my daily to-do list, things will pop up that I originally didn’t have written down. I will add them to the list even after the fact, just so I can have the pleasure of crossing them off.
Learning to sail is often on people’s bucket list. The Kenosha Community Sailing Center (kenoshasailing.org) offers adult introductory sailing lessons and now is the time to check that off of your list. In just four Monday nights, they will teach you the basics and get you sailing. The small classes are held in the safety of the harbor and the students have fun learning together. The next and last class of the season for adult beginners will start on August 16th.
Bucket lists aren’t the only kind of lists that figure into my world. I am, along with my two Lakeshore Pedal Tour drivers, Tristine and Jim, a professional playlist connoisseur. On a pedal tour, our groups listen to music as they cruise around the city and most of the time, someone in the group has handcrafted a playlist. If the groups don’t bring their own music, Tristine loves to play her mix of party favorites. In contrast, I encourage my riders to turn on Spotify or type “bike riding” into Pandora because my personal playlist is filled with sad and sappy music in minor chords because that’s what makes me happy. In addition to captaining the pedal bike, Jim is also a drummer in a band called the Empty Bottle Boys and One Shot Jane and really knows his music. He reports that Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, the Eagles’ Take It Easy and Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline are often featured on the playlists he hears. He encourages riders to include sing-a-long songs because the more people drink, the more apt they are to sing. He also tries to steer groups to places where live music is happening. It is unbelievable to me how much music is played in Kenosha.
The Kenosha Yacht Club will have musical performances on Friday nights in August. Sid Seno will be there on August 6th, Jordan Stocker on August 13, and Haley Klinkhammer on August 27th. But as near and dear as KYC is to me, they are but one of many places down at the lake with fantastic entertainment happening. UPT has an Open Mic hosted by Mark Paffrath on Wednesdays and an Open Jam on Thursdays. Rustic Roads has artists in their loft including some crooners capturing the rat pack vibe. 58 Below reliably has some great bands and is a cool place to do some summer chillin’. While Fusion and the Creative Space tend to host emerging musical and performing artists. Then there is also frequent music played at the Boathouse, the Stella, Swedes, Apis, Slip 56, Villa D’Carlo, and Ashlings. And this list is by no means exhaustive.
We also have our long-standing music series and big events. As I write this, Tribute Island is about to launch in its new location at the Wyndham Hotel and Peanut Butter and Jam is back on Thursdays. The bandshell has the Kenosha Pops on Wednesdays and Tuesday at the Shell has a diverse line-up of enjoyable talent. The Kemper Center has a great schedule of jazz events all summer long. Even the Harbor Market has regularly scheduled classical, jazz, and folk artists.
I attribute Kenosha’s love of live music to our strong high school music programs. I really think that it is the enormous band, orchestra and choirs we have that have created generations of music lovers. I strongly encourage all of you to get out while you can and enjoy the sounds of Kenosha. Many places have indoor and outdoor seating,and our days of nice weather are limited. So, put going out to hear live music on your list and get the pleasure of crossing it off.
See ya down at the Lake! Meryl!
Kenosha Community Sailing Center – kenoshasailing.org
Kenosha Yacht Club – kenoshayachtclub.com
Also check out www.lakeshorepedal.com
(This blog first appeared in the 7/29/21 issue of the Smart reader)
True confessions…when things start getting crazy in my life, I start watching ridiculous YouTube videos or allow myself to get caught up in animal Facebook videos. It’s an inverse relationship of stress to stupidity. Really, I’m not talking about your feel-good cat video, I’m referring to the 15-minute rescue the moose out of the semi-frozen pond video or how a dog and a blind horse have formed a deep bond (both of which I have watched more than once). Honestly, I’d rather tell someone my weight before telling them how many hours of screen time I clock on my phone weekly. It’s a rabbit hole I’m not proud to admit that I have fallen into, but I know that I am not alone.
Summer is always a zany time for me and launching Lakeshore Pedal Tours (lakeshorepedal.com) has just added to my personal crazy! I am happy to report that everything is going really, really well and people love riding the pedal bike. Please wave to the riders if you see them out on the streets and share in the goodtime. But it, along with all the other million things that I’minvolved with over the summer drive me to watching bears climbing into hot tub videos!
This past week I fell into a kind of rabbit hole that I do not feel as guilty about. I haven’t been down this particular hole for a long time and I had forgotten how much I enjoy it. Yes, I actually visited, in-person my local library. I can’t tell you how much I love a library and Kenosha has lots of them. Over the years, I have watched libraries evolve and every time I visit, I am amazed at all the creative programming options. If you still think a library is just about books, you are sadly mistaken.
One of the many things that caught my eye was a schedule of outreach activities at the parks. I was specifically interested in the KPL Kids programs being held throughout the summer on Simmons Island or at the Simmons Library Park. For example:
Most of these events require in-person registration, calling 262-564-6150 or online at mykpl.info. There are a ton of events and you really should check it out.
So naturally, I started talking to my buddies about whether they knew that there was such great programming going on in the parks and they told me about Seno K/RLT Conservancy(senokrlt.org), in partnership with the Kenosha Park Alliance and Southport Park Association, and how they have been busy this summer delivering nature-based programming to children in urban areas of Kenosha and Racine.
These community outreach programs have been connecting local children to science and the natural world in their own neighborhoods. They have been creating unique opportunities to incorporate environmental education with urban children who may not otherwise experience natural areas.
Again, I am always astounded when I look around and see what is going on in our community. At the Kenosha Community Sailing Center (kenoshasailing.org) we have been busy offering sailing lessons to adults and children and renting kayaks to the community which we think is pretty awesome, but it is only part of what makes Kenosha a wonderland. Sometimes you have toscratch the surface, chase a squirrel, set sail on an uncharted course, or fall down a rabbit hole to see what’s truly going on around you.
Explore Kenosha with Lakeshore Pedal Tours
Ahoy – Lakeshore Pedal Tours (lakeshorepedal.com) has been launched and I couldn’t be more proud. You may have seen our 14-passenger, pedal-powered party bike on the streets of downtown Kenosha or at the Kenosha Harbor market. I’m calling it my land yacht, since our tours start and end at the Kenosha Yacht Club and our drivers all wear captain’s hats. Whatever you want to call it…it’s fun!
We have four approved routes. One goes downtown into the entertainment district and allows riders to choose from many different establishments. The second goes north towards TG’s, Puzzlehouse, the City Zoo, Cheers, and around Union Park Square. The third goes through the parks along the lake towards La Fogata and the Waterfront Warehouse. The fourth leaves at 10am on Saturdays and heads over to the Kenosha Harbor Market where riders can shop and eat delicious food from the local vendors. All of the routes offer something special and I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite.
What I’m really excited about is discovering new places. I went to the Union Park Tavern for the first time and learned they had a beer garden in the back with live music. It was a polka band when I stopped in and I loved it. I might be the last person in Kenosha to know about this gem of a place because everyone I have spoken to about it asks me if I have tried their fish fry. Apparently, they have a great Friday night fry. I would say, “who knew” but I guess it’s really me who didn’t know!
In any case, part of what is great about being on the “land yacht” is that you can try new places. Walking into a bar with 13 of your friends really opens up the door to where one might otherwise go. Fec’s for example, is a place with a lot of local flavor with a devout following, but is often described as a dive bar. Well, we had a group of schoolteachers that absolutely loved Fec’s and came back saying that was their favorite stop. So again, who knows…it’s all about exploring.
Personally, I was excited to discover 58 Below and love that they have live music going on, too. Do y’all know that we have an incredible amount of live music going on in our downtown? Really, it’s incredible and we absolutely need to support our local music scene.
The Lakeside Deck at the Wyndham has a great line up of artists and Rustic Roads and the Boat House also frequently have guest artists. And don’t even get me going about Slip 56 and Swede’s who along with Ono’s, rock the block with great music and food. This Friday, July 2nd between 5-8pm the Kenosha Yacht Club will have Haley Klinkhammer performing. Her voice is amazing and she is just a great artist.
When people come down for their pedal tours, I also tell them about the Kenosha Community Sailing Center and how they rent kayaks, stand up paddle boards and teach youth and adult sailing so they can explore our vibrant city from the water (kenoshasailing.org).
This past Sunday, lakeshore pedal tours drove in it’s first Kenosha veteran’s-day parade. As I sat in the captain’s chair waiting to start, I asked myself, “How in the world did I get here?” Then the parade started and we passed out fruit snacks to the crowd and I waved to all the smiling faces. It was so heartwarming and I thought, “you never know the places you’ll go or should go, until you get there.”
Take a ride with us.
See you down at the lake!
If you get the chance, dance
Ahoy – I’m gonna start this blog entry on a sad note, but it has a happy ending. When I was 13, my father died suddenly of heart failure. As a bona fide “daddy’s girl,” I went wild. I believed that there was nothing to live for but the day. I didn’t settle down until I was in my late 20s and consider myself lucky to have survived all the stupid things I did in the name of living in the moment—that’s the happy ending part.
I settled down because I found the balance between living large and wanting a future. But there are things that I missed not having a father, and one of them is not dancing with him at my wedding. I know that sounds trite, but it’s the little things that sting. Being sensitive to the fact that not everyone has a father around, the volunteers at the Kenosha Community Sailing Center (KCSC), myself included, have designed a slew of activities for the holiday weekend that celebrate fathers, but families more broadly. We are calling this weekend of family festivities, “Ship Ahoy,” and are hoping it turns into an annual event.
“Ship Ahoy” will begin Friday, June 18, 4pm-6pm with the Kenosha Yacht Club hosting a Meet & Greet fundraiser for the Hartley Family Youth Sailing Scholarship. The scholarship fund was created in honor of Tom B. Hartley. The scholarship awards KCSC sailing classes to youth. The fund is managed by the Kenosha Community Foundation and those unable to attend, but who would like to make a donation, are encouraged to visit kenoshafoundation.org.
On Saturday, June 19, 10am-4pm, KCSC will host a Make-A-Gift arts & crafts extravaganza dockside. Children will have the chance to make wonderful presents for Father’s Day or any gift giving occasion. They will be able to decorate birdhouses, paint rocks, have their picture taken and adorn the frames, stamp cards, and draw and fill their own wildflower seed packets—all perfect gifts for Dad or anyone they love. The cost is $12 per child and INCLUDES a child sailboat ride across the harbor (must be accompanied by adult)!
Then, when the sun starts to set, the adult Dock Party will start. The Dock Party, sponsored by Lakeshore Pedal Tours, Z Auto Sales, Great Lakes Yacht Sales and Southport Marina will include live music by Revival – Not Your Uncle’s Cover Band and drink specials featuring the Club’s new “Docktail” menu. There will be a dance floor, plenty of good food, and the cool breeze that blows off of the harbor at night.
There is NO COVER, but donations will be greatly appreciated and there will be cool items auctioned and a raffle with great prizes. Lakeshore Pedal Tours, who operates the 14-passenger pedal bike hitting Kenosha streets this summer, has already donated a pedal tour and a lot of other businesses have given too.
Dakota Bossingham, one of the owner’s of Z’s Auto Sales, along with Asif Iqbal, are proud to support KCSC, “Kenosha loves their lakefront and a good party. KCSC has been teaching kids to sail for years and is always promoting water safety around the harbor. As a proud father myself, I’m looking forward to the festivities! We will be bringing some classic muscle cars to showcase to please car enthusiasts. There’s a lot of lake cruise traffic up and down 51st Place, so we’re hoping they will stop to look at the cars and join the party.”
Then on Sunday, Father’s Day, from 11am-4pm, KCSC is hosting a Family Dance & BBQ. The cost is $15 for adults and $12 for children. Chef John Baker will be the grill master and DJ Nico will be playing a mix of kid-friendly songs. He will also be calling out special “Daddy Daughter,” “Mother Son,” “Grandparent Grandchild” and “whomever you call your family” to the dance floor throughout the day. Mini-introductory dance lessons will be held every two hours. These lessons will teach everyone a few basic steps that they can do together and get everyone of every age up and dancing like pros. Sunday is Father’s Day, but KCSC wants to celebrate dads and all the people who make a family strong.
As a girl who lost her daddy, I personally want to encourage every father out there to dance with their daughters while they can, do not wait until their wedding. Your family will probably ask you what you want to do this weekend…don’t sit it out, dance!
For more information about the Ship Ahoy events, you can call 262 997-9343 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The family fun events and the Dock Party will all take place at the Kenosha Yacht Club, 5130 – 4th Avenue, Kenosha, 53140.
See you down at the lake!
A BLESSING ON YOUR HEAD OR BOAT, MAZEL TOV!
Ahoy – Perhaps you are familiar with the Pot Roast Story. There are many versions, but it all boils down to this (see what I did there?!). A young girl watching her mom cut the ends off a roast before sticking it into the pot, asks why she cuts the ends off. Her mother says that is the way her mother did it and that she should ask her grandmother. When the little girl asks her grandmother, she replies, that when she was a newlywed, she didn’t have a pot big enough for the roast, so she cut the ends off so that it would fit, but she has no idea why the others do it! The parable is often told to remind people that it is important to question why you do things.
COVID forced us all to question what we do and why—it demanded that we think about our traditions. That word “tradition” is loaded. For me, I immediately hear the refrain from Fiddler on the Roof—tradition, TRADITION, tradition playing in my head. For others, I think tradition means having a certain dish at Thanksgiving. Organizations had to look at their traditions, too. There were some things they could modify, some things that just couldn’t happen and some new things that emerged.
The Kenosha Community Sailing Center added family classes and private lessons to their offerings and they found out that there was an untapped market. They also started offering their adult introductory sailing lessons in the harbor and found that people responded to that, too. Check out their new courses at kenoshasailing.org.
The Kenosha Yacht Club had to re-thinks things, too. The club was first charted in 1912 which means it has survived multiple wars and two pandemics. If you think about that for a moment, it’s pretty impressive. It means that for over a century there have been Kenosha sailors and their families who have volunteered and cared enough to keep the organization afloat (I’m on a roll today!) throughout a lot of hard times. I believe that part of the reason they have survived over the years is their commitment to the harbor community and their respect for tradition.
Last year they held their Blessing of the Fleet virtually, and this year they will be holding both an in-person and Virtual Blessing of the Fleet ceremony. Who could have imagined in 1958, when they had their first Blessing of the Fleet, how times would change. The reason they decided to adapt this tradition wasbecause they knew it was important to respect those that had passed in the year prior and to usher forth a new and healthy boating season.
Boaters understand the immense power of the lake and recognize how capricious nature can be. Blessings of the Fleet originally started as a Catholic tradition but has evolved to be more inclusive. Anyone with a boat is encouraged to participate in person or virtually. The bell at the lighthouse will be rung for members who have passed and a blessing will be made hoping to ensure safe travels on the waterways for all. It is a very special and venerable tradition.
Anyone who wishes to have a boat blessed should arrive at the Kenosha Yacht Club dock, Sunday June 6th between 10:00 and 10:30am. Boats are encouraged to display their “Brag Flags”. To access the Virtual Ceremony, boats can join the Zoom meeting on Sunday, June 6th at 10:30am.
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After you join the Blessing of the Fleet from your boat or through Zoom, please come to the KYC Bar and Grille for a great meal and your favorite drink. They have a beautiful new and expanded “Island Deck” just waiting for new traditions to start! If you have any questions about the ceremony or how to participate, please contact Rear Commodore, Joyce Rinehart at email@example.com
See ya’ down at the lake, Meryl!
ALL MEN ARE EQUAL BEFORE FISH
Ahoy – There is something about the personalities of those who fish that makes me want to spend time with them – they are patient, dialed into nature, and always dreaming of the big one. Now, I’m sure that there are many people who like to fish in solitude, but I think that most people who fish like to do so with a friend/family member, or just in proximity to others. I believe it is a grown-up version of parallel play.
I have taken my boys to many places in the US and it is the same story everywhere we have gone…There is always someone who is willing to share what they are doing and what bait they are using. Off the piers in California, Randy taught us how to use Sabiki rigs and how important it is to reel the fish in fast so that the Harbor Seals don’t bite them off the lines. In Alaska, we learned how to “combat fish” and yell out “fish on the line” from Miki. In Florida, Carlos taught us how to catch Red Drum off the beach and in Arkansas, Bill taught us how to roll bait balls. This kindness goes on everywhere all the time.
Here in Kenosha though, we have a band of fishermen who are next level. They are members of the Kenosha Sportfishing and Conservation Association (KSFCA) and they have been rearing and releasing Chinook Salmon into Lake Michigan since 1973. In the spring, they receive 40,000 fingerlings and they imprint them for 2-4 weeks with the water from the Pike River before releasing them. The fish then grow-up and return to spawn 3-4 years later once they reach maturity.
I’m no mathematician, but if the KSFCA have been releasing fingerlings for 48 years, it means that they have imprinted about 1,920,000 baby fish to our local waters. That’s a lot of fish! It also means that if you or someone you know catches a salmon in the harbor or the southwestern waters of Lake Michigan, chances are they have been reared by this group and you owe them a debt of gratitude (or better yet, you can make a donation directly on their website www.kenoshasportfishing.com).
Sportfishing is a huge industry (2.3 billion in Wisconsin) and we are lucky that groups like this exist to help the DNR get the fish out there. We have a lot to brag about. In Kenosha, one can easily find a great fishing charter captain by visiting kenoshacharterboats.com. They boast that they have the highest catch-per-hour rate and offer both salmon and trout charter fishing. There are also a zillion places to fish in-land. These are things to be proud of for sure, but what’s going on here with the Kenosha Sportfishing and Conservation Association is more than economic support for the fishing industry—this group is making sure that there are fish so others can dream of catching the big one.
The KSFCA is the non-profit group that holds the annual Fish N’ Fun Day on Anderson Lake, organizes the Pike River Clean-up, and have been leaders in getting life-rings on our shores. This week they will be releasing the 2021 fingerlings and the bulk of their work will be done until next year, but they still need you. They need new community members who care about keeping Kenosha a great place to fish. Like so many established organizations, their membership is aging and they need more donations and some human fingerlings to imprint!
Herbert Hoover was known as the “Fishing President” and even wrote a book about fishing. He opens his book with the following:
‘Fishing is a chance to wash one’s soul with pure air, with the rush of the brook, or with the shimmer of the sun on the blue water…. It is discipline in the equality of man–for all men are equal before fish.’
In his book he further offers insights into the mentality of fishermen, “He must be of contemplative mind, for it is often a long time between bites; he is by nature an optimist or he would not go fishing.”
Those are some pretty dramatic passages, but the sentiment is really true. People who enjoy fishing are optimists and I’m so glad to be a new member of an organization that rears optimism every spring. If you fish, if you dream, or dream of fishing in Kenosha—please consider becoming a member.
See ya down at the Lake, Meryl
Lakeshore Pedal Tours is offering a special ride to help raise funds for this organization. Visit our website to book it at a discounted price. Proceeds will be donated to KSFCA. lakeshorepedal.com
FOOLS RACING OR RACING FOOLS?
Ahoy – I have a friend who was telling me that the kind of gym she needs is the kind that is filled with hungry dinosaurs that would chase her around—fear of being eaten was pretty much what she thought it would take to get her moving. I thought it was a hilarious idea and naturally we started coming up with names like Jurassic Gym or Anytime Eaten (Louie Arecco, remember you heard it here first).
Then on the other extreme, I have my 14-year-old son who loves running and makes me watch YouTube videos of Usain Bolt and reviews of tennis shoes. Yes, it’s true, there are countless videos where shoe experts compare carbon vs. nylon plates, who knew, right?
Saturday, May 1st marks the beginning of the summer races with the Wisconsin Marathon, a half marathon and 5k race winding through downtown Kenosha and the parks. It is also when the Kenosha Yacht Club (KYC) will launch their summer season with an “April May Fool’s Day Regatta.” This annual event is a fun and silly tradition that the KYC racers do to inaugurate the sailing season. They will often have backwards sailing races and play other sailing games in the dinghies.
The bridge over Simmons Island will be blocked off until the marathon is over (usually by noon) at which point you might want to make it over to KYC to have a drink and watch the sailors compete in the harbor for the title of best Ship of Fools.
KYC’s Dock and Derrick Master, Doug Vacarello, along with a team of volunteers, have already started to launch boats. One by one, the boats are hoisted into the water and masts are stepped until all of them are in the water by June. (If you want to see a short time-lapsed video of how a boat is launched, there is one available on KYC’s website). Then, on the first Sunday of June, the boats are blessed in a time-honored traditional ceremony, and the real racing begins.
The Kenosha Yacht Club is home to the Buccaneer Fleet #15 as well as an active PHRF (Performance Handicap Racing) keel boat fleet. Races are held on Thursday nights and late Sunday mornings. Awards are presented to top finishers and boats of all kinds are welcome. For a relatively small yacht club, KYC has an extraordinary number of skillful racers who do well in the Double Hander, Queen’s Cup, Mac, Hook Race and Q Race.
Although you must be a member of the Kenosha Yacht Club to race under their burgee, the racers are very welcoming and even hold moonlight and other special races throughout the season to encourage participation in the club and racing. The league is organized and led by John Weiss, a nationally ranked sailor, and is a good balance between competition and camaraderie.
This year the Kenosha Community Sailing Center is offering a class specifically for sailors who would like to enter the world of racing. The course will focus on learning how to sail as a crew or “pod” and will integrate with the KYC races. Among many other things, what makes this course special is that it will prepare sailors to be a part of a crew, ensure existing captains that new crew members are knowledgeable, and provide those with an interest in captaining the tools to manage a crew.
Whether a cruiser or day sailor, joining a racing league is one of the fastest ways to build sailing skills and practice boat handling. So, if your neighbor has a sailboat sitting in their yard, or if you know that they only use it as a floating tailgate party in the marina, it’s time to give them a gentle nudge to get involved with the Kenosha Community Sailing Center and the Kenosha Yacht Club to up their sailing game. If that doesn’t work, tell them that there is a roving pack of dinosaurs that have escaped from a local gym, looking to eat people with sailboats that are not in use.
See ya down at the lake – Meryl
Kenosha Community Sailing Center – kenoshasailing.org
Kenosha Yacht Club – kenoshayachtclub.com
Wisconsin Marathon – wisconsinmarathon.com
Also check out www.lakeshorepedal.com
1 Billion Served and We’re Not Talking Burgers
Ahoy – When I’m traveling, I often run into fellow Wisconsonites and can identify them by their Green Bay Packer clothing. But we also have another claim to fame that I have not seen branded onto a t-shirt, and probably should be. We are the founders of Earth Day. Yes, our very own Senator GaylordNelson made Earth Day official in 1970 and it is now the largest secular celebration in the world with more than a billion people every year taking environmental action.
This year in celebration of Earth Day, Nancy Carlson, the Program Director of WATERshed, has been organizing a Kenosha beach clean-up for the Great Lake Community Conservation Corps which is partnering with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Trash-Free Waters initiative
To avoid large gatherings, Nancy has been seeking organizations who can commit a small group of 6-12 people to clean up a beach rather than just inviting community members down to participate. There are so many organizations in Kenosha that have already stepped up, but she needs a few more and will be holding additional clean-ups in our parks over the summer.
So, let me tell you a bit about the WATERshed program. Their mission is to promote conservation of our natural resources through education and preservation in Lake Michigan’s coastal communities. The program has won multiple awards and is consistently recognized for their excellence in education (the program is linked to Next Generation Science Standards). The WATERshed program uses Lake Michigan and the creeks and rivers that feed into it as living laboratories to help students make personal connections to freshwater resources in our community. They organize many school field trips (virtual in 2020), fundraisers and exciting community-building events.
WATERshed is working with the Great Lake Community Conservation Corp because they have overlapping missions. In addition to bringing the Trash-Free Waters initiative to our area, the Great Lake Community Conservation Corp addresses climate change, advances greener living and provides education and training for disadvantaged populations in the Great Lakes area. They run Veterans Corps programs which offer assistance with transitioning vets into civilian life. They have a Go Solar program that offers discounted solar panel installation and a Reduce the Runoff program which provides free landscaping to qualified recipients to minimize rainwater pollution from runoff. They also run a Certification and Emergency Response Training School out of Racine and Milwaukee that trains 18-20 year oldstudents to be first responders.
The other organizations that are stepping up to step out and clean up our beaches include:
Kenosha Community Sailing Center – Dedicated to educating individuals in the sport of sailing and promoting awareness of and access to the Kenosha Harbor and Lake Michigan. Kenoshasailing.org
Root Pike WIN – Dedicated to restoring, protecting and sustaining the Root-Pike basin watersheds. Rootpikewin.org
Vet Corp – an inclusive program that serves all veterans transitioning into civilian life. Administered by the Great Lakes Community Conservation Corp. Greatlakesccc.org
Southport Park Association, – Dedicated to establishing public-private partnerships committed to historic preservation and sustainable environmental stewardship throughout Kenosha’s lakefront park system. Kenoshasouthport.org
Seno K/R Land Trust Conservancy – Dedicated to sustainable forestry, natural resources education, conservation and land preservation. Senokrlt.org
Boy Scout Troop 422 – Troop leader Wade@westwordsconsulting.com
Boy Scout Troop 544 – Troop Leader firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to participate in the Earth Day Beach clean-up or others that will be organized this summer, please contact Nancy Carlson at email@example.com and if you can’t participate but would like to support the cause, please consider making a donation to any one of these worthwhile organizations and groups. Happy Earth Day 2021!
This story originally appeared in the 4/08/21 edition of The Smart Reader magazine.
I BET YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT THIS
My dad liked to play cards, so growing up on the coast of Southern California we would sometimes drive to Las Vegas so he could play blackjack and poker. While my dad played cards (which was never referred to as gambling), my mother took us to buffets, swimming pools, and shows. At night she would sometimes take us outside where my brother and I could marvel at the sizzling heat of the night air and the stars. She knew we liked stars, the moon and all things having to do with space. It seemed like everyone liked space then. Just looking up at the sky filled you with patriotic pride, a sense of adventure and mysterious imaginings. The stars were dazzling and even the lights on the Strip and the jewels on Elvis’s jumpsuits didn’t compare to the night sky.
Then the years passed and the suburban skyglow grew greater than the stars. I read somewhere that 80% of Americans can no longer see the Milky Way because of light pollution. I bring this up because the other night I got out of my car and looked up at the Kenosha sky and saw stars. Not as many as out in the desert, but enough to stop and stare. I stood on my driveway feeling like I was holding an ace and a jack; I knew I was lucky to see them.
If you have a chance and the clouds blow away, bundle yourself up and get out there and look at our Kenosha night sky. Better yet, take someone you love outside to look at the stars with you (and don’t even get me going about our unbelievable moon rises over the lake).
As promised, I told you that I would let you know about some incredible things going on down at the lake. One hidden treasure is Carthage College’s Professor Brian Schwartz and the Griffin Observatory at the Kemper Center. He hasn’t been able to hold public viewings this year because of COVID, but he is still hosting small groups upon request. One of Professor Schwartz’s greatest joys is to share his love of astronomy with others. To schedule a free tour, event or stargazing session, email Professor Brian Schwartz at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 262-551-6042.
Honestly, I don’t know that much about stars, and as a sailor, if my GPS went out, there is no way I could navigate by them as they did in days of yore. All I know is that they are beautiful when they glisten in the sky and it’s my good fortune to live where I can still look up and see them at night or drive myself just a few miles to gaze at them with an expert.
This month we will celebrate the spring equinox, St. Paddy’s Day and day light savings. These are all indicators that spring is here and it’s time to start making summer plans.
• The Kenosha Community Sailing Center’s course registration is open. Sign up today at Kenoshasailing.org
• The Kenosha Yacht Club racers are finalizing their 2021 race schedule and educational offerings. Become a member at Kenoshayachtclub.com
• The Kenosha Sportfishing & Conservation members are planning an April 5 member meeting to plan their community events and to celebrate the good news that in 2021 they will be receiving Chinook salmon fingerlings from the WDNR for their rearing pond. Learn more at Kenoshasportfishing.com
See you down at the lake — Meryl
(This story originally appeared in the 3/11/21 edition of The Smart Reader magazine.)
This is my maiden voyage as a blog writer for Smart Reader and I hope to take you with me on an exciting journey through Kenosha’s harbor community. Kenosha is many things to many people, but it is foremost a harbor town located on the shores of Lake Michigan.
My purpose in writing is not to inspire you to become a sailor, although that would be great, especially if everyone dressed and talked like pirates, but to inform you about what is going on down at the lake. For me, what it important is simply that you know about our thriving harbor community and the incredible recreational and environmental opportunities that exist here. Each blog will feature different organizations and businesses that are doing fun and worthwhile activities that you may not know a lot about.
Closest to my heart is the Kenosha Community Sailing Center (KCSC), a nonprofit which operates in cooperation with the Kenosha Yacht Club to offer youth and adult sailing classes to the community. This organization has been led by Jim Buck since 2008 with the unwavering support of John Gransee whom many know as a chemistry teacher from Harborside. The two of them, along with many other volunteer sailors, have created a very special place.
The KCSC offers sailing classes for kids all summer long in the harbor. If you have strolled along the Sculpture Walk, chances are you have been amused watching the youth sail. It is pretty routine for walkers to be tempted to call 911 when they see the kids learning how to capsize and right-side their boats. John Gransee also loves to teach the adults how to tack in the harbor’s channel by having them come-about close to the walls which always brings nervous cheers from the landlubbers as they zig-zag the boats up and down the channel.
Like so many nonprofits, when COVID-19 started to spread last year, KCSC was forced to pivot. Youth Education Director, Bettie Wescott, worked nonstop to establish health policies and sanitation protocols. It was a challenge, particularly because the board had to make risky operational choices with nothing certain except for uncertainty. Luckily, with protocols in place, parents did register their children for classes and registration for 2021 sailing courses has already opened (kenoshasailing.org).
COVID also prompted KCSC to start offering family and private group sailing courses. Bettie’s husband, Paul Wescott, a US Sailing certified instructor with the center, agreed to offer these classes to fit the scheduling needs of the families. These courses turned out to be very popular and are being offered again in 2021. These flexible private classes also appealed to couples and groups of friends that were comfortable being together in the open-air. We jokingly called these courses our “virus buddy” classes.
My sense of humor and ideas can be zany to say the least. For example, I’ve been wanting to do a Titanic dinner fundraiser where we would recreate the menu (maybe shave it down to 7 courses) and read from the movie script. I was already thinking about what band we could get to play, when someone pointed out to me that it was irreverent. Oops. I was just thinking about the fun part.
For better or worse, this is how I roll, thinking about the fun part. It’s been a brutal year and I know there is still much suffering in our community both personally and professionally. But we’ve also managed as a community to come together and be creative in these challenging times. As you get to know me and the organizations that I am involved with, I hope you will also think about the fun part. If we haven’t learned anything else from 2020, it should be to not take the good times for granted.
This story originally appeared in the 2/25/21 edition of The Smart Reader magazine.