Aug 1, 2012

Fun at Sylvan Beach, Oneida County, New York

Believe it or not! I just visited Sylvan Beach for the first time. What a fun place. It is another case of missing the places that are close to home. I am trying to take care of that and with the glorious weather recently, Sylvan Beach made a perfect destination. The beach and Sylvan Beach Amusement Park are located in Oneida County where the Erie Canal connects to Oneida Lake. My roller coaster days are over. I am now at carousel speed. No matter the age the music of the carousel creates a happy mood and I just had to hop on for a ride. As the owner of the 1896 Carousel opened the gate for me she said, “You take the best and I’ll take the rest.” She is only the second owner of the magical ride. She also clarified a point for me, “A merry-go-round goes up and down while a carousel only goes round and round.”

Located near the amusement park entrance is Yesterday’s Royal Restaurant where they have special events during the summer including dinner theater. Their dance floor with a viewing balcony is the place for polkaing on various Sundays. Also of interest is the niche with an old-time post office setting and walk-through ice house and other historic objects.

I fell in love with Union Chapel currently celebrating its 125th anniversary. I remember the 1969 movie “The Sterile Cuckoo” starring Liza Minnelli and what a risqué film it was at that time. Parts of the film were shot in the church and it is where Minnelli received her first on-screen kiss. Minnelli was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role and the song “Come Saturday Morning” became a big hit. That historic footnote aside the church is beautiful and I loved the side panels that can be raised like wings to allow the air to flow through. Nondenominational services are held every Sunday during the summer.

In the day of chain restaurants I love family-owned businesses that have survived – mainly through tenacity and hard work by the entire family. One such place in Sylvan Beach is Eddie’s, the favorite of locals and summer visitors. Eddie’s started in 1934 as a hot dog stand and as the years passed the business grew and the menu expanded. Today their signature is the “Original Hot Ham Sandwich” which, of course, I had to try. Like many wonderful things serendipity came into play. It seems that one night they ran out of hotdogs but they had some hot spicy ham called capicola. They sizziled on the grill and served it in a bun. Viola! Eddie’s signature sandwich was born. It has a bit of a kick to it. My waitress, Heather, suggested, “I like it with sweet pickle relish. It calms it down a bit. It is my favorite way to eat it.” After trying it I agreed. In fact, it gives it a whole new flavor. On the way out I notice a photo montage that included an image of Nate King Cole. He is only one of several famous people who enjoyed eating at Eddies, so did Desi Arnez, Frank Sinatra and other notables.

While I was enjoying my lunch by the window I did some people-watching. There were people of all ages having fun. Today Sylvan Beach appeals to all ages.