Million Dollar Beach will open Memorial Day weekend
By Gwendolyn Craig
A pandemic and restricted economy didn’t stop tourists from checking out Lake George on a sunny Thursday.
The summery weather heading into Memorial Day weekend and the tease of state beach openings had sunbathers, bikers, picnickers and walkers enjoying the village’s iconic views in the southeast Adirondacks.
It was an odd welcome, however. The gates to the state’s Lake George Beach, also known as Million Dollar Beach, were closed.
That didn’t hinder dozens wearing little to protect themselves from the sun or the coronavirus. They stretched out on the neighboring strip called Dog Beach.
That is, it didn’t get in their way until state Department of Environmental Conservation staffers began erecting a fence, gradually closing sunbathers in with chain-link and sandbags. Lake George Mayor Bob Blais said Dog Beach has been a social distancing problem.
In a statement to Adirondack Explorer, a DEC spokesperson said the fence is “to ensure public safety and control access to and density on Million Dollar Beach.”
Million Dollar Beach will be open for the weekend from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. starting Saturday, the spokesperson added. The beach capacity will be limited to 500 people, half of normal, to keep with Department of Health social distancing guidelines. The Village of Lake George will not open its own beaches until the end of June, Blais said.
Boaters are expected to take to the waters this weekend, too, and were already doing so on Thursday.
One of the Lake George Park Commission’s most popular boat inspection stations, which check for invasive species, had already conducted more than 60 inspections by 3 p.m. Thursday.
Blais said about 80% of restaurants in the village are open with some kind of takeout service, but mini golf, arcades and other tourist attractions remained shuttered. A few retail shops along Beach Road had open doors for curbside pickup, something they could do as of Wednesday when Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the gradual reopening of the Capital Region.
Hotels and other overnight accommodations, marinas and boat rentals are also open for business, according to a news release from the Lake George and Adirondack Regional chambers of commerce.
There is an uptick of hikers in the Lake George region, too. The Lake George Land Conservancy’s preserves—the Pinnacle in Bolton and Pilot Knob in Fort Ann—remain closed for the foreseeable future after the trails’ popularity made social distancing impossible.
While the mayor is glad to see tourists return to the area, he’s also leery.
The village put up 30 signs telling people to wear masks. Blais said at least 20 were stolen within the last week. A few could be seen on Thursday, including two locked securely in an informational kiosk.
“So far we’ve been disappointed in seeing the number of people who aren’t wearing the facial coverings,” Blais said. “We’re hoping the folks that come up here exercise common sense and respect the seriousness of this pandemic.”
Kelly and Charlie D’Souza, of Queensbury, were walking along the boardwalk wearing masks.
“We were trying to hopefully get out here before a lot of the tourists rush in, when it’s a little easier to keep socially distant,” Charlie said. “It’s not terrible, but we’re a little shocked about how few people are wearing masks.”
So was Dutchess County resident Amy Vincento. All six people in her group were wearing masks, and she was disappointed many others were not.
“Before we came up here, I wanted to make sure we were doing the right thing,” Vincento said.
Farrah Davis, Kaela Mancini and Hannah Venditti traveled to Lake George from the Glenville area, and enjoyed the warm weather in their bathing suits. They chose not to wear masks.
“There’s no one here compared to, like, last summer,” Mancini said. “We were going to come anyways because I think this whole coronavirus is absolutely ridiculous, and I think people should come out more.”
Davis, who had never been to Lake George before, said she hopes the area gets busier, so local businesses are supported.
“I hope people are also smart about it,” Davis added.