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Beaver Island State Park: The long boardwalk facing east between the beach and the front lawn.
Beaver Island State Park: The long boardwalk facing east between the beach and the front lawn.

Beaver Island State Park invites visitors to watch eclipse on a kayak

Sat, Apr 6th 2024 11:10 am

Article and Photos by Michael J. Billoni

Senior Contributing Writer

Cyndy Montana loves the sun.

The owner and operator of Montana International LLC, which signed a 20-year contract to manage guest services inside the 950-acre Beaver Island State Park in 2019, grew up on a farm in Quebec, Canada. Her family relied on sun to survive the long growing season and, now, she has solar panels on her Grand Island home, which provide power to the house and her electric car.

Montana has never wanted to see the huge ball of sun more than she does on April 8.

Hundreds of thousands of visitors are expected in Western New York to view the historic 2024 solar eclipse. At Beaver Island State Park’s Falconwood Event Center, V’Randa Restaurant, the front lawn and boardwalk that overlook a beautiful one-half mile sandy beach on the shores of the mighty Niagara River, people are expected to be directly in the path of totality – which occurs at 3:18 p.m.

“This is the day I am praying for,” Montana said last Monday afternoon, at 3:20 p.m., as she wore her sunglasses and smiled as the sun beamed down upon the park. “It will happen, and it will be a dream come true. Our goal when we took over this amazing state park was to bring life back to the park by offering something to do for the entire family and to attract visitors from all over Western New York, the state and beyond.”

Montana and Grand Island’s Blue Water Marina are offering a unique opportunity to watch the eclipse in a kayak on the Niagara River. They will have 25 vessels available for rent, which will be launched from the beach. Visitors may bring their own kayaks and launch them at the marina. To book a kayak, visit https://book.peek.com/s/c4b29ec2-d2a6-4da0-8e68-c04e6253b3ea/07j0X?gaClientId=601184547.1587674810.

Cyndy Montana, owner and operator of Montana International, smiles on a sun-drenched March 25, two weeks before the eclipse.


Since signing the contract to manage the park, Montana International has survived the COVID pandemic and its aftermath, and now the construction of a new bridge off the I-190 North highway. A detour forces guests coming from the south to exit at Whitehaven Road, turn left, and enter 190 South to the next exit for Beaver Island.

“It is a four-minute difference,” Montana said.

She decided to make the historic viewing of the eclipse an all-day event throughout the park for families. Details include:

√ Free park admission and free parking (1,000 parking spaces available).

√ A certified solar eclipse 5K race and kids 1-mile fun run beginning at 9 a.m. Register at: https://healthybuffalo.org/solar-eclipse-5k-kids-1-mil-run/#

√ A craft and vendor fair opening at 9 a.m. in the Falconwood Event Center and adjacent terrace.

√ Kayak rentals launched off the beach by Blue Water Marine.

√ The great lawn beneath the Falconwood will feature a beer tent and live music from Ransom Road.

√ There will be many jumbo lawn games provided by Leaping Beauty Bouncehouse and Tent Rentals of WNY set up near the playground on the front lawn under the V’Randa Restaurant.

√ On the beach, Bryan Caudill is organizing a volleyball tournament. More information can be found at https://www.facebook.com/events/1547553529361837.

Montana said the park’s 18-hole championship golf course will not be open, but its Bogey’s Restaurant will be open, along the V’Randa Restaurant and the Sand Stand beach concession stand. There will be a popcorn vendor and specialty drink maker for kids, and a T-shirt vendor who will create personalized shirts on the spot.

Beaver Island State Park is also home to the historic River Lea Museum, built in 1849 by William Cleveland Allen, cousin to former President Grover Cleveland, who visited the family farm on many occasions. The home was restored by the Grand Island Historical Society, which now operates the museum.

“It is truly going to be a historic day for all of WNY, and we are so proud we can provide a front-row seat for the eclipse on April 8,” Montana said.

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