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Laughs come back to Cradle Beach Camp after 675 days without kids

ANGOLA, N.Y. (WIVB) — The first week of summer camp is underway at Cradle Beach Camp in Angola after 675 days without kids. In 2020, there were no laughs or splashes in the pool at the camp that’s situated on the shores of Lake Erie.

“It feels kind of kind of good because I’m out in the open, I don’t have to be at home all the time behind a computer,” Dillon Cote-Miller said, a camper. “I get to see people in person. Things have started to get back to normal and I’ve been able to see my friends.”

“It’s a lot of fun here, I get to meet a lot of friends and I get to hang out with them and do a lot of activities,” said Tali Tojek-Acebedo, another camper.

Dillon Cote-Miller and Tali Tojek-Acebedo have come back to Cradle Beach Camp for their third time. Tali comes with his little brother, Aiden, who is deaf. Aiden communicates well, but the kids in his cabin have spent their first few days there wanting to learn basic sign language.

The camp empowers kids to be their best. It focuses on children with special needs and the underserved, but all are welcome. There’s a high ratio of counselors to kids, and nurses are on staff at all times. Campers stay there 7 to 10 days overnight.

The camp is currently operating below capacity, but staff and campers are just happy to be back after a year when many children struggled greatly behind a screen and without much socialization.

“It’s a really fun place to be,” Cote-Miller said. “It helps me get away from the tv (and) I make new friends. And the pool is open. I haven’t been in the pool for awhile.”

There are five camp sessions this year, lasting through the end of August, and they are still hiring counselors and nurses for the summer. For more information on Cradle Beach Camp, click here.

Kelsey Anderson is an award-winning anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2018. See more of her work here.

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Officials warn against illegal fireworks ahead of holiday weekend: ‘Leave it to the experts’

TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Fourth of July weekend is right around the corner and that means people are going to be shooting off fireworks.

There are some smaller-grade fireworks that are legal in New York State but the larger ones from out of state are illegal.

Valerie Taylor co-owns the Phantom Fireworks tent in Airport Plaza. She said they sell legal, fountain fireworks. They’re legal because all the explosives stay on the ground.

“What we always describe to customers is, it’s a show for your backyard not your neighborhood.”

The fireworks tents just became legal in New York State four years ago.

“We want to keep the safety up because if we don’t, New York State can take it away as easy as they gave it to us,” Taylor said.

To stay safe when using these fireworks, Taylor said to always have a hose ready just in case. She said adults should be the only ones operating the fireworks, and kids should be supervised around them. She said to set them off in a wide open area and on a solid surface. Don’t put them in the grass.

The illegal fireworks are more intense. Captain Frederic Foels from the City of Tonawanda Police Department said with no public shows last year, they got a ton of calls about those professional-grade fireworks.

“This year there’s more and more municipalities that are gonna have fireworks this year so hopefully that’ll bring the number down of people who decided to shoot them off on their own,” Captain Foels said.

He said anyone caught shooting off illegal fireworks can be arrested.

Fourth of July supplies: Prices on these items are going up

“Take a chair and relax and watch them and let the experts do them and enjoy the show and don’t try to do it yourself,” he said.

Captain Foels said in 2019, the police department received 23 calls leading up to the Fourth of July holiday. In 2020, they got 161 and so far this summer they have already gotten 26.

Kayla Green is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.

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Portion of Exchange St. in Attica to close Tuesday as new waterline is installed

ATTICA, N.Y. (WIVB) — A new waterline is going in on Exchange Street in the Village of Attica, leaving a portion of the road closed for three days.

Starting July 6 at 7 a.m. and running until July 9 at 3 p.m., Exchange will be closed between the Northfolk Southern Railroad Crossing and the Attica Rodeo Grounds to all traffic. This includes emergency vehicles.

The Department of Public Works will be installing a new waterline near Village Memorial Park.

Attica Police say to get on Exchange Street, head south of the Rodeo Grounds, and detour through Rt. 98 south to Dunbar Road then north on Exchange Street.

Police say residents will be allowed access in the area.

Patrick Ryan is a digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2020. See more of his work here.

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Several airports see surging flight schedules for Fourth of July holiday week

The airline industry is still digging itself out from the pain of Covid-19, but flight schedules for the Fourth of July holiday offer some encouraging signs — particularly for several major hubs.

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Indications of a Fantasy Island reopening as job postings for ‘Splash World’ go online

GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. (WIVB) — There are more indications that Fantasy Island is moving towards reopening as their operator puts out the help wanted sign.

Positions at the Grand Island park are listed on the “Splash World” website, including openings for tickets sales, food service, life guards, maintenance and more.

Chicago-based investor Gene Staples stepped in as the new operator of the park last month. Staples operates two other parks in Indiana and New Jersey under the umbrella “IB Parks & Entertainment.”

Fantasy Island shuttered in 2020, much of the amusement park’s rides were sold off — all that remains is the Ferris wheel, Silver Comet rollercoaster and the water slides.

News 4 is working to learn when the park is slated to reopen.

Patrick Ryan is a digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2020. See more of his work here.

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“Team Hutch” MLB Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) Program bringing baseball and softball to Willie Hutch Jones Educational and Sports Program

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The MLB Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) Program has chosen the Willie Hutch Jones Educational and Sports Program to bring baseball and softball to city kids in Buffalo.

The program starts this summer and it goes from July 19th through August 20th. Softball and baseball programs will take place at the Johnny B. Wiley Masten Field, Canisius College Demske Field, Riverside Park and Shoshone Park Fields. 

The program is for kids ages 5 to 12 years. Officials say “Team Hutch” will serve as a feeder for the MLB’s age 13 to 18 baseball and softball divisions. 

Angelica Morrison is an award-winning reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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Brown on primary loss: “I think everything happens for a reason”

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Just days into his ambitious write-in campaign to earn a fifth term as Mayor of Buffalo, Byron Brown wants to talk about the next four months. But questions about the lead-up to his shocking primary defeat at the hands of India Walton remain.

“There are always things you can do better. I’m going to make adjustments moving forward,” Brown said.

“I am energized. I think everything happens for a reason. And I think this will help us to bring the city together in a way that we have not seen before,” he added.

In his first one-on-one interview with News 4 since the start of his general election campaign, Brown said he will be engaging with the voters. Political observers question whether he did that to the necessary degree in during his primary campaign, which some have call complacent.

“Now as we see the pandemic lifting, one of the things that I usually do in my campaigns… very active door to door, very active in outreach to the voters,” he said.

When asked if that was another way of saying he didn’t do as much door to door outreach during the primary campaign because of the coronavirus pandemic, Brown responded, “Certainly the pandemic had an impact on that during the course of the campaign. If we were following all of the guidelines and being protective of the members of the community, you just could not do that the way I normally do and have done in the past.”

Walton, who will be the Democratic nominee and was not available for an interview Thursday, is already planning how to build on her primary win, as she indicated during a rally in Niagara Square Tuesday.

“I was really strong among my base, which is progressive voters,” Walton said. “It means we have a lot of education to do. We will be out in the community having teach-ins and talk-backs about what our policy platforms mean for every day people.”

In a statement issued Thursday, Walton added, “(W)e’ll be focused on doing what we’ve been doing for months and what helped us win this election; speaking with voters to understand how we can best represent them in City Hall.” She also referred to Brown’s attempt to win another term as a “right-wing write-in campaign based on fear-mongering and smears.”

Write-in votes don’t have be perfect, according to Erie Co. election commissioners

But the mayor claims he has encouragement and support from people in every section of the heavily Democratic City of Buffalo.

“I’m asking every single voter for their vote and their support,” Brown said.

Chris Horvatits is an award-winning anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2017. See more of his work here.

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From Newfane to the Tokyo Olympic Games – a small town is rallying behind Team USA athlete, Newfane High School alum

(WIVB) – Newfane High School alum Brian Irr is representing Team USA in the Tokyo Summer Olympics for karate – and the Newfane Alumni Association is showing their “Panther Pride” in support.

This summer’s Olympics will be the first to include karate. Irr is the first Team USA athlete to qualify in the sport’s kumite discipline.

To support him, the Newfane Alumni Association is asking residents of Newfane – and anywhere – to take pictures of their lawn signs, flags,, banners, and other decor, and post them to the Newfane Alumni Association Facebook page with the hashtag #NAABrianInTokyo.

The goal is to get 6,464 – the amount of miles from Newfane to Tokyo.

https://www.facebook.com/newfanealumniassoc/photos/a.101938878714227/128638026044312/

“We want Brian to know that we’re thinking of him, even though he doesn’t live here anymore, a lot of his teachers still teach, a lot of his friends still live in the community, and we’re thinking about him and are very proud of him,” said Jill Keys, president of the Newfane Alumni Association.

Lara MacFarlane, 2nd vice president of the Newfane Alumni Association, graduated with Irr in 2006.

“He’s worked so hard – he’s been practicing and doing karate since we were kids,” MacFarlane said. “He’s really lived and breathed his goals and met them, and we want our students to see that and know they can do it too.”

The idea to form the Newfane Alumni Association started last fall, MacFarlane added.

“Some of the kids were kind of depressed because of COVID and not having the opportunities that other classes got in a typical year,” she said. “They were probably thinking ‘I’m just from a small town and I can’t go as far as I think’ and that couldn’t be more wrong.”

So they reached out to Newfane’s pool of alumni and found many are doing interesting things, on different paths and in different occupations, MacFarlane said.

“Brian couldn’t be any more proof that you can come from a tiny town and really make it and prove yourself on a world stage,” MacFarlane said. “That’s exactly what he’s doing, and we couldn’t be more proud.”

Anyone is welcome to participate in the challenge to support Irr as he heads to Tokyo – just use the hashtag.

Kaley Lynch is a digital reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2017. See more of her work here.

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Buffalo outdoor pools closed all summer due to lifeguard shortage

BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) — The city splash pads have been open since May, but when it comes to the nine public outdoor pools in Buffalo, they will remain locked up all summer because lifeguard recruiting and training was not able to happen during the midst of the pandemic.

“Every year, over the winter we partner with groups like the Police Athletic League, Buffalo City Swimming Racers, and Buffalo Public Schools to recruit city youth to become trained for free to become city lifeguards,” said Andy Raab, deputy commissioner of Parks and Recreation for the City of Buffalo. “We were not able to do that this year because of Covid protocols. The schools weren’t really operating, our pools were not open over the course of the winter when we would normally do that.”

So for now just the city’s ten splash pads will be open every day from 11am until 7pm this summer. In addition, two indoor pools; Lovejoy and Cazenovia pools will be open each weekday from 8am until 4pm.

But to mothers like Samantha Crespo, that’s not the same. “You know with the hot weather, not everyone can afford AC, so coming out to the public pool is something we look forward to. I know for me and my kids, it was something we were looking forward to, so it sucks.”

However, Fransheska Morales sees it differently. She isn’t quite ready to let her kids take the plunge into a public pool so soon after Covid restrictions are lifted. “I feel more comfortable with my kids getting wet in the area I live, they could get wet outside, being with the pandemic, I feel more comfortable with that decision.”

The following splash pads are open every day from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. in Buffalo:

Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park-Porter AvenueAllison Park – Reese St.Masten Park – Best St.MLK Jr. Park Basin – Fillmore & Best St.Lanigan Park – South Park Ave.Lincoln Park – Quincy St.Cazenovia Park Houghton ParkSchiller ParkRoosevelt Park

George Richert is an award-winning reporter who first joined the News 4 team in 1998, later returning in 2018. See more of his work here.

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Buffalo high school students help famous painter Cecily Brown create mural on the Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts building

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Students at the Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts got a chance to work alongside famous painter Cecily Brown this week, while painting a mural on the side of the performing arts building.

The public art display is a collaboration between the UB Arts Collaboratory, the Bortolami Gallery and famous painter Cecily Brown.

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