BY D’ARCY EGAN
The Jet Express slammed the door on a chilly spring this week, sending its first ferry of the summer season to Put-in-Bay with a gaggle of media folks and area politicians. Some of the shops and restaurants were just waking up, but Island Ambassador Peter Huston said that won’t last.
“Everyone’s anxious to get the summer season started,” said Huston, who dispenses a wealth of island information, including the popular Foodie Trail list that made its debut a year ago, at the Put-in-Bay Visitors & Convention Bureau. “We’ve got a lot of experiences for visitors, from family-friendly features and events to weekend getaways.”
Huston was at the helm of the Put-in-Bay Tour Train, and his first stop was the renovated Perry’s International Peace Memorial, on this morning a fog-shrouded experience. On a sunny day, you can see Canada’s Pelee Island a few miles away.
Some of the Put-in-Bay sights are more than a century old, including the 352-foot Perry’s International Peace Memorial completed in 1915. The elevator to the top was once steam powered and took about 10 minutes to go to the top. Since its renovation last year it now runs as smooth as silk.
The Tour Train stopped next at Perry’s Cave, where the Butterfly House and its gift shop received the most attention.
Across the road, Ed Heineman and the Heineman Winery were waiting with a well-received wine tasting. The oldest winery in a region once dotted with dozens of them, the Heineman Winery was founded 1888 by Gustav Heineman, an immigrant from Baden, Germany.
One of the reasons for the success of the Foodie Trail, which rewards visitors who stop at a variety of the bars and restaurants in town, has been the amazing upgrade of dining experiences in recent years. From the lobster bisque at The Boardwalk to the walleye bites and potato pancakes at Fishbowl and Mossbacks, just across the street, lunch was a delight.
When all of the famous pubs swing back into action with a mind-bending array of bands, Put-in-Bay will rock all summer long.
The Jet Express is the high-speed ride to downtown Put-in-Bay, racing along at up to 40 miles per hour to cover the 12-mile route in about 25 minutes. The spacious cabin is heated, a bonus on a chilly morning, but most opt for the view from the second deck. Cost is $34 (round trip), $15 for kids 12-16 and $6 for those 6-11.