TRR photos by Jonathan Charles Fox

There was plenty of dancing in the “ocean,” as kids frolicked at the realistic “Pop-Up Sprinkler Beach” painted by teens from the Center for Workforce Development.

Life’s a beach

With end-of-summer events cascading throughout the Upper Delaware River region, I suffered from melancholia a bit, for once again, it all flew by too fast. With Labor Day just around the corner, I’m already concerned about winterizing the house, painting the kitchen, (which was slated for May) and catching up with the spring cleaning that never took place. That said, my favorite season has yet to commence, and there’s plenty to look forward to before the snow begins to fall.

The Bethel Lakeside Music Series (like ‘em on Facebook) has been fantastic all summer, and last Thursday was no exception. I can’t attend every week, but when I do, I always make it a point to go down to the public launch, take off my shoes and dangle my feet off the dock, thankful that I have this small beach to share with friends and neighbors. As Dorothy Wagner and Dennis Smith (www.aerialweb.com) expertly strummed their nylon and steel string guitars respectively, the unmistakable sounds of Mason Williams’ “Classical Gas” filled the early evening air. Known simply as “Aerial Acoustics,” the duo entertained a sizable crowd, many of whom brought blankets and chairs with which to enjoy the outdoor concert held at the Kauneonga Lake Gazebo Park. While Dorothy and Dennis received a standing ovation for their efforts, I made my way back to the car and another engagement. With apologies to musician David Milner, I had to leave before his set, which everyone assures me was just great. One last band (The Usual Suspects) is on the bill, so there’s no time like the present to check out these great free concerts in the park.

Dharma pawed at me to remind that she was scheduled to host the National Dog Day fundraiser being held at the Callicoon Brewing Company on Saturday benefitting the Sullivan County SPCA in Rock Hill. I assured her that I’d chauffeur her there, but not before going to Monticello to check out the “Pop-Up Sprinkler Beach” event that had caught my eye. Created by the Sullivan County Division of Planning and Community Development, with Heather Jacksy and Freda C. Eisenberg at the helm, it wowed me. “Sprinkler Beach was a pop-up one-day event to run through sprinklers, eat healthy food and think about the potential uses of an unused span of asphalt,” Jacksy explained. Envisioned as a “simple event to revitalize a community and make residents healthier and happier,” it had a simple goal: fun. With support from Sullivan Renaissance, Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Dept. of Public Health, Jacksy and Eisenberg enlisted teens from the Center for Workforce Development’s Youth program, whose members transformed the parking lot into (IMHO) a fantastical beach, replete with painted ocean waves, sand and seashells, where young folks cavorted in the spray of sprinklers. Meanwhile music played and adults supervised, handing out scrumptious healthy snacks provided by the fine folks at Willow Wisp and Beaver Dam Brook farms. Additional support was provided by Eat Smart New York, the Greater Hudson Valley Health System, the Village of Monticello and the Monticello Fire Department, to name a few.

“The look of sheer joy on the faces of those kids made me well up a bit,” Jacksy admitted. “Looking as if they were enjoying ice cream was also amazing, considering that they were actually eating healthy salads from the Highland Kitchen and Garden.” Eisenberg was also enthusiastic about the success of the event. “Sprinkler Beach was an exercise in ‘pop-up place-making’” she said. Noting my quizzical expression, she continued. “That is, a temporary event intended to demonstrate the potential of a public space. There used to be a basketball court here, and although the court is long gone, the need for outdoor recreation is still very much there.” The event was also used to generate community feedback that may influence future plans, which could include a new playground and an outdoor performance space, should funding materialize. Comments and ideas are encouraged and should be addressed to planning@co.sullivan.ny.us.

Side note: this event knocked my socks off. The kids were having the time of their lives doing what kids do best. Although planned as a one-time event, the sprinklers, hoses, chairs and cabanas are going into storage, so “It’s possible to have the event pop-up in other locations as time and interest dictate,” Jacksy shared. “The paint on the old basketball court will fade over time, to [hopefully] be covered by a new area inspired by input from ‘Sprinkler Beach’ participants.” Visit our Facebook page and go to www.riverreporter.com to see more photos.

Yes, “life can be a beach,” even in Monticello. And I mean that in the best possible way. 

 

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