While town officials and Madison residents debate about the best way to handle generated by the recent opening of the Madison Beach Hotel and summer visitors to the Surf Club right around the corner, three enterprising youngsters Sunday afternoon knew just what to do.
Tess Friedman, Charlie Lee and Dylan Friedman set up a stand near the corner of West Wharf and Surf Club roads, selling cups of lemonade and limeade, garnished with a strawberry. Their timing was good. With a rugby championship underway at the town's Surf Club and a wedding at the Madison Beach Hotel, their corner was busy all afternoon Sunday. They snagged some golfers from Madison Country Club coming and going as well, along with a few neighbors.
Madison Community Service Officer Erik Mastriano, who was patrolling to make sure no one was violating parking laws, stopped by for some refreshments. Tess, Charlie and Dylan offered him a free drink, since he was working and in uniform, but he insisted on paying. In addition to Mastriano, Madison police, including Madison Police Chief Jack Drumm, were patrolling around West Wharf and the Surf Club Saturday and Sunday.
"Not a second of problems"
Grandpa Alan Starensier and Grandma Margie Starensier, who have lived at that corner for eight years, say they were very happy to see the hotel open again.
"We have had not a second of problems," Alan Starensier said. "Not ever."
Their daughter Amy Lee, who also lives in Madison, said she hopes the hotel does well. "Let's hope it's busy and that the business draws a lot of people," she said.
Judging from the parking lot of the Madison Beach Hotel, and the municipal parking spots near the hotel, business is doing well. Weddings were held at the hotel Saturday and Sunday. Valet parking was offered in the evenings, at no charge to customers. Customers who did not want to valet park in the evening were told by the hotel's parking attendants that they could park in the municipal spaces next to the hotel and at West Wharf Beach. Most of the spots were filled for at least part of the evening both Saturday and Sunday nights.
Rugby tourney brings in more than 700 people
On Sunday, the Surf Club was packed with people enjoying the beach and the 5th Annual Connecticut High School Rugby Championship. The tourney brought in more than 350 car loads and several bus loads of players and fans. The cars were charged $10 each, bringing in more than $3,500 in parking fees for the town.
The tourney kept the town's emergency responders busy as well. Four players were taken away by ambulance with head and neck injuries, and the first aid booths, staffed by Madison Ambulance Association members and volunteers from the North Madison Volunteer Fire Co., were doing a steady business as well, with wraps, slings, and ice for minor injuries.
Bill Bader and John Loucopoulos from the Madison Rugby Club were staffing a booth in the parking lot of the Dolly Madison Hotel, at the corner of West Wharf and Surf Club Roads, across from the lemonade stand. They were handing out maps and providing directions to people coming in to the tournament. Both said they were thrilled to see so many people coming to the tournament.
A great day for Madison
"We got more than we thought we would," Bader said. "And we got a good day for it. That was a major gift. What a great day for Madison, to bring an event here that's never been here before."
Attendants at the Surf Club gate said early in the day that there was plenty of parking, but that it got very tight near the end of the afternoon, with only a few spaces available.
The attendant at the West Wharf gate spent much of his day Saturday and Sunday letting people know that the spots past the gate were not available for customers of Madison Beach Hotel during the day. The West Wharf attendant said most people had no problem with that, and promptly turned around to find other parking. There was one car load of little old ladies who did not take kindly to being told to turn around after driving more than two hours to have lunch at the hotel, and the driver cussed out the attendant. But then she too turned around to find other parking.
There was a minor accident reported shortly after 5 p.m. on Saturday near West Wharf Road and Parker Avenue, but additional details about that accident were not immediately available. Initial reports indicated that the accident resulted in no injuries.
Police and the town's emergency responders also were called to Hammonasset Beach State Park several times over the course of the weekend, including both Saturday and Sunday night.
Business brisk for some merchants in downtown Madison
In downtown Madison, things were busy as well and merchants reported doing a good amount of business at the start of the holiday weekend. Carlene Weis, one the owners of Jolie Boutique, on Sunday afternoon was serving customers from New York City, Danbury, and two women from Newington who said they were thinking about going to have something to eat at the Madison Beach Hotel.
Weis said business is doing so well that she is expanding her store, doubling the space. As customers walked in Sunday afternoon, she warned them about the loud construction noises that would be coming from behind a blue tarp hung in the back of the store. "We're on the grow!" she said.
Linda Ditchik, from New York City, said she and her husband had been at Foxwoods and that they stopped in to shop in downtown Madison on their way home. "We love these little towns," she said, while Weis rang up the clothes she selected.
In the meantime, Tess, Charlie and Dylan were busy serving customers at their lemonade stand. Customers were asked to put a donation in a jar, with the proceeds marked for people in need or, as the writing on the jar put it, "donations to pore pepol."