By RHEA-FRANCES TETLEY
The mountains saw blue skies and sunny weather for Memorial Day weekend 2021. It also saw thousands of visitors, coming out of a year of imposed COVID restrictions, visiting the mountain communities to enjoy the festivities offered.
In Crestline, Monday saw a Memorial Day service held in the South Shore parking lot of Lake Gregory, after the opening weekend of the beach at Lake Gregory Regional Park under the management of the new Lake Gregory Company. The beach opened Saturday morning with a line of beach-goers waiting patiently to enter the newly groomed beach area. The beach had new tables and chairs on the patio area and a new snack shop with an all new kitchen and grill. There are new cabanas, with lounge chairs and some new rental boats and kayaks. The electric, white Duffy boats, which can hold whole families, were also a hit as they were seen cruising around the lake all weekend. Kayaks were also floating throughout the lake.
The North Shore sand was filled with beach-goers and sunbathers, and the visual reminded some residents of the classic photo postcards from the 1960s of Lake Gregory. The new inflatable play islands were filled with children climbing the walls, bouncing, sliding and having a good time. One boy, Jason, 12, from El Monte said, “The water was cold at first, but I had so much fun out there, I quickly forgot and want to come back here again.”
Manny Lopez, the father of a family from Fontana, said, “My kids said this splash island was more fun than the last one you had at this lake. We’re coming back again this summer, when the water is a little warmer, but we wanted to come up the mountain for opening day. It was nice to finally be out and about this weekend.”
To celebrate Lake Gregory’s grand reopening, Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings saw “Tacos-N- Tunes” as Lake Gregory offered a free concert each night. The Lake Gregory Company had not greatly advertised the concerts in advance, just a last-minute posting on social media, so they were anticipating only about 75 people would show up on Friday, which also had a mini vendors market. However, as the music wafted over the lake, the venue was quickly filled.
This was the beginning of their Friday night market nights and summer concerts. On Friday night, the Green Label Orchestra played, on Saturday night it was the Little Bear Valley Blues Band and on Sunday it was the By-Products.
All three bands got the people out of the new chairs on the patio and dancing. The patio was filled all three nights, mostly with locals, and the comments were that they were happy to see the concerts had returned.
“This is perfect! The weather is nice, the music is excellent and it feels like this last year of staying home may finally be over,” said Crestline resident Louise Watson.
The tacos were available for purchase from Tony’s Restaurant, which is located across the street. Tony tried two different methods of serving the meals, as take-out from the restaurant’s kitchen or on-site taco bar, and said Sunday evening that bringing over the catering taco bar was the most efficient.
The Lake Gregory Company is still seeking a few more employees so they can fully open all areas of the park for the summer, since all activities are in full operation now that June has arrived, and the regional park is open seven days a week for boating, fishing and beach-going. Apply online at www.Lakegregory.com. They are also still seeking and training lifeguards.
Also, occurring in Crestline over the Memorial Day weekend was the “Handmade and Aged” artisan fair at Lake Mud Pottery, with the band Green Label Orchestra playing; the Renn Fair, which is repeating next weekend; a pop-up artisan’s market at Higher Grounds Coffee House with the Little Bear Valley Blues Band performing on their stage; and the grand opening with a band at Woody’s Mercantile.
At Designed by Faith, they were holding a lemonade fundraiser for Stanford Wall for his medical bills, since the teen was recently injured when his Corvette went over the cliff from Highway 18. At Encompass Antiques and Gifts, they had a Veteran’s Memorial Day motorcycle rally check point on Saturday on their ride from Victorville to Apple Valley and Crestline. Most of the bars were hopping in the evenings with bands, karaoke and customers.
At the Crestline-Lake Gregory Chamber of Commerce office, they had many more visitors than usual and some new residents came in and found out more about the town they have just decided to make their hometown. The learning curve about some of the many differences of living in a forested, mountain community as opposed to living in a city was shared, including the dark-skies ordinance prohibiting light pollution by not having extra lights on outside at night, partially for the benefit of the nocturnal animals who inhabit the forest.
The Mountain History Museum in Lake Arrowhead also opened for the summer season on Memorial Day weekend and the summer concert season started at Lake Arrowhead Village. SkyPark and their bike park are open for the summer with Saturday night roller skating parties. Heaps Peak Arboretum is open for hiking their trails and their kiosk is open weekends. Snow Valley now has their mountain bike trails open Fridays through Mondays all summer long. The first Sunday of each month will see the paragliders and hang gliders jumping off at Teddy Bear launch site, starting at 5 p.m. until sunset with a band and food truck and the public is invited to come out and watch them have fun.
Memorial Day weekend started the summer of fun on the mountain, but also extra traffic can be expected with the extra visitors, so the CHP suggests driving carefully and watching out for the other drivers on the roads.