Tonawanda News — GRAND ISLAND — One of the worst winters in the past two decades — the blizzard-like conditions and bone-chilling temperatures — created a picturesque setting in the nation’s oldest state park. The nearly frozen American Falls and the thick ice bridge below stirred endless interest through social media.
The upbeat side to the otherwise dismal weather that lasted for nearly three months was recounted Thursday during the regional state park commission meeting at Beaver Island State Park.
“We heard from Dublin, Iran and places around the globe,” said Angela Berti, marketing and communications director for the parks commission. She noted there was panic in some quarters that the falls was frozen solid and stopped running.
“It turned out in our favor because of all the publicity (from the photos),” she added. A followup attempt to set the record straight about the “frozen” cataracts apparently had no impact on many people who were just thrilled by the photos via the Internet.
Noting that March is traditionally a slow time for the tourist industry, Berti said, it sometimes was a challenge to even find a place in the state parking lot closest to the American falls.
On another matter, Ron Peters, deputy general manager for the regional state parks-western district, said a concession contract is being finalized for operation of the Beaver Island Golf Course on Grand Island.
In other action at the meeting:
• Maj. David A. Page of the state park police reported two males arrested March 5 were charged with violating a park ordinance by entering property closed to the public. The pair had ventured out on the ice cover at Terrapin Point and had to be brought back over the railing. The incident received widespread media attention.
• Between Jan. 1 and March 7, the park police responded to or initiated 601 “happenings,” issued 111 tickets and filed various charges in 11 custodial arrests.