Staff Blogger: Ellen Venema, Rhein Center Assistant Coordinator

On Nov. 28, 2017, Lakeside Chautauqua will partner with #GivingTuesday to raise funds towards revitalizing the Steele Memorial Bandstand/Gazebo. The Central Park Gazebo is a favorite feature along Ohio’s Most Beautiful Mile, drawing Lakesiders and guests alike for performances, ceremonies, celebrations and more.

But what is it exactly that draws people in?

Spending time in Central Park, the biggest hub of Lakeside activity, is a rich sensory experience. A variety of activities create a unique soundtrack to the summer. If you’re having trouble imagining it, read these words and let your mind drift back to an evening concert by the Gazebo.

From your seat on the hard rubber swing, the perfect perch to take in the full spectrum of park activity, you scan the crowd as it swirls around you, your viewing angle shifting as you hurry to protect your hand from the sticky drips of a fast-melting ice cream cone.

Couples stroll along the lakefront path, pausing to greet a friendly dog and chat with its human companion. Just beyond, a bride and groom model their devotion for a photographer in front of glittering blue waves.

Children race across the grass in an energetic, giggling game of tag among the picnic blankets as their parents keep one eye on them and another on the bandstand stage.

The scuffle of shoes and the arrhythmic ringing thump of a bouncing basketball draw your attention to the friendly pick-up game in progress on the nearby court with teenagers gathered all around.

You follow the hiss and crack of shuffleboard discs, twisting the chains of your swing, until you see grandparents and grandchildren dancing and singing along to the band’s rendition of a classic in between shots.

With a last crunch of waffle cone, the heat of a July sunset soaks into your skin, but you’re cooled by breezes off the water, competing against the music like static on an antique radio.

Chirps and calls from a winged choir hidden among the leaves are occasionally startled into silence by the clank and thud of a well-aimed horseshoe or a cheerful burst of victory cries from the mini-golf greens.

Behind you, a large extended family gathers around the picnic tables to enjoy the concert, and the beloved summer smells of charcoal, hamburger grease and Sloopy’s pizza begin to waft past.

In the distance, the drone of a passing speed boat fades into the heartbeat whump of jet skis skipping waves, and the seagulls yodel their opinions at the swimmers below as the patriotic clang of the flagpole carries on the wind.

Weaving it all together, the rumble and rush of waves on the rocky shoreline provide a foundation for the threads of melody swirling through the environmental score, echoing off nearby cottages to bring this Lakeside rhapsody to its peak.

How do your senses come alive at the Gazebo?

Whether you think of the Steele Memorial Bandstand/Gazebo as a cheerful oasis amidst the harsher realities of everyday life, a beautiful backdrop for ceremonies and photographs along Ohio’s Most Beautiful Mile, or simply a nice place to enjoy nature and a concert with your loved ones, please take a moment during this Thanksgiving season to join together with the Lakeside community on a day of giving back, and make a donation towards the continuing vitality of a Lakeside gem for future generations to experience and enjoy.

To give a gift…

  • Make an online donation today or on Tuesday, Nov. 28
  • Call (419) 798-5396 to give a gift over the phone.
  • Make a check payable to the “Lakeside Chautauqua Foundation,” Attn: Giving Tuesday, 236 Walnut Ave., Lakeside, Ohio 43440 with “Giving Tuesday” in the memo line.