Port Clinton: ‘It’s still Memorial Day and that’s what it’s all about,’ walleye festival canceled for remainder of holiday


PORT CLINTON, Ohio (WJW) — The angry waves of Lake Erie have tempered but the city of Port Clinton is still feeling the impact from the nasty weather that hit their shores at the start of Memorial Day weekend.

“We were expecting busy busy busy,” said Saucey Slices Pizzeria Owner Shannon Amshey.

The pizzeria had just had its grand opening on Thursday and had to close the next day as water began to rise.

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“We got here just in time to put the sandbags on the step and then we just, fingers crossed, we waited it out,” said Amshey.

They avoided water damage but Great Lakes Popcorn Company next door wasn’t so lucky. “Water’s never been inside the building until yesterday,” said owner Roy Bemiss.

He says the flooding happened so fast they couldn’t get the sandbags out in time. “We just got done renovating this store in March, brand new floors and the whole nine yards so it was pretty frustrating but we were open for business today and got everything cleaned up.”

Still in need of a clean-up is Waterworks Park where the annual walleye festival is held.

The entire weekend was cancelled on Saturday and there are plans to operate a portion of the event next weekend from Thursday to Sunday. The event is the primary source of revenue for Main Street Port Clinton which works on improving the downtown business district.

“The Walleye festival itself has been studied and it brings in in excess of $3 million dollars to our community,” said Mayor Mike Snider.

He said the vendors were still under a foot and a half of water Saturday.

“Once the water is gone and once the electricians say it’s safe then the word will go out and I’ve already had dozens if not hundreds of people contact me to say hey, let us know and ‘we’ll come help out.'”

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As of Saturday, nearly every road was back open with the exception of a stretch of Lake Shore Dr. Snider said they were having substantial issues there and asked people to stay clear of the area.

“I’ve been getting reports from the police that folks are driving around the road closed barricades,” said Snider. “Driving through people’s yards, they are now ticketing and towing people.”

Financially, businesses say getting back on their feet is very important but they have been lending each other a hand, even wading through the flood yesterday to deliver food. “A lot of the local small businesses are helping the other small businesses,” said Amshey.

Snider says Port Clinton will still be able to have two Memorial Day observances at the yacht club and Veterans park. “Memorial Day is Still Memorial Day. It’s not the Walleye festival Memorial Day but it’s still Memorial Day and that’s what it’s all about.”  

The mayor says the beach had significant damage, most of it aesthetic. He says crews will be out on Tuesday to handle that and should be done Wednesday morning at the latest.

Ferry schedules should also be back to normal starting tomorrow.


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