Gail Callahan, Contributor
At first glance, last Saturday’s July 31 activity at the Charlotte Beach appeared understated. The annual town Beach Party was minutes away from starting and anticipation was building.
Preparations were underway as the minutes ticked down to the 5 p.m. starting time.
Vanessa Knowles manned the barbeque, and singer/musician Mary Provencher strolled around the lawn, chatting with bystanders.
Provencher welcomed the Beach Party, noting she and her band, the Mystic Party Band, were booked to play “three to four sets.”
“I love it, this event,” she said.
Shortly after, motorists began arriving, seeking parking spaces in the beach parking lot.
They were greeted warmly by Selectboard member Louise McCarren, who wore her volunteer hat. She reflected on community events and their place in the fabric of the town. As McCarren talked about the event, she excused herself and greeted people in a car calling out, “Come on in.”
“The (beach) party brings a lot of people here,” said McCarren as she stood in the beach parking lot. “It’s great. I think people are happy to get out.”
Because of the pandemic, last year’s party was shelved.
Neil Kvasnak of South Burlington noted the area’s landscape draws him to its sandy shores and refreshing water. “I love the beach and the swimming,” he said “I just love the beach and Lake Champlain. It reminds me of the summer camp in New Hampshire I went to as a kid. The party is a plus. It’s wonderful the way Charlotte includes people from other towns.”
This was the fourth annual beach party, said Recreation Commission Chairman Bill Fraser-Harris. It is open to residents and non-residents alike, boasting food and community. People swayed to music provided by the Mystic Party Band, while others sat on picnic tables.
Fraser-Harris, who said about 200 people attended this year’s party, listened to music and watched as happy party goers chatted to each other or sampled the provided food from Fat Cow Farm, Misty Knoll Chicken, Stoney Loam Farm, ice cream from Backyard Bistro sponsored by Paterson Fuels and Adams Berry Farm. A generous donation of grill expertise from Mow! Mow! Mow! was also supplied for the event.
Fraser-Harris also noted that people were eager to gather after last year’s pause due to the pandemic and felt the party this year elicited a particular joyful response. “Emotions and my intellect were particularly stirred listening to the music,” he said.
As children kicked a soccer ball on the lawn Selectboard member and Charlotte Rescue member James Faulkner was on hand with two Charlotte Rescue ambulances as well as a rig from Shelburne Rescue comprising the fleet on hand to offer help if needed at the event. Faulkner smiled as he glanced around the beach and green, welcoming the opportunity to gather again.
A few feet away, Cheryl and Frank Gouchoe sat on lawn chairs, smiling and tapping their fingers as Provencher and her bandmates belted out their musical sets. Mrs. Gouchoe, who settled in town 24 years ago, noted this is the first time she attended the event. With a wide smile on her face, she noted the Beach Party is a welcome celebration. “I used to go to the town party,” she said, looking around the green. “This is new, and you can’t ask for anything better.”