Surrounded by roaring crowds of hoops fanatics, the Erie BayHawks shoot for glory during thrilling basketball matches as the official minor-league team of the New York Knicks in the NBA Development League. Head coach Gene Cross manages a roster of young and veteran talent that recently included overnight sensation Jeremy Lin. Buzzers announce the beginning of four quarters' worth of dazzling slam dunks, three-point shots, and Final Jeopardy lightning rounds as players hone their talents in preparation for upcoming games and potential rise to the NBA ranks.
Perched at the bow of the pirate ship, the captain's parrot braces for stormy weather. But in the case of the pirate-ship inflatable at Pirates Plank, the feeling of choppy waves isn't generated by water below, but by the youngsters hopping on it. Kids can also jump around on a Pirates of the Caribbean–themed bounce house before navigating around the tranquil ponds decorating the 18-hole miniature-golf course.
Elsewhere, Pirates Plank hosts races on its go-kart track, gamers in its video arcade, and players in its batting cages aiming for homers or to hit balls back into the machine they came from. The snack bar keeps visitors reenergized with tasty treats, and birthday parties entice attendees with unlimited soda and popcorn, arcade tokens for each guest, and mini-golf passes for future visits.
Between rugged cliffs stretching hundreds of feet toward the sky, a foaming river surges toward waterfalls and gentle tributaries. Upon its arching rapids tumble buoyant rafts, ferrying animated passengers who scream with delight at each bump along the way or sudden bald eagle sighting. For the experienced guides at Zoar Valley Canoe and Rafting Company, this is an everyday experience.
Currently celebrating its 43rd season, the U.S. Sailing Association–accredited Seven Seas Sailing School of Buffalo offers landlubbers a taste of the aquatic life aboard sailboats manned by U.S. Coast Guard–certified captains. The team regularly exercises budding sailors' sea legs with certification courses and a seven-part Basic Sail program, and has also instructed students with multiple sclerosis and worked with the Sea Scouts to construct the world's first brick sailboat as part of a mission to take down rogue lighthouses. Seven Seas' headquarters on the Buffalo Ship Canal, complete with on-shore barbecues, a gazebo, and dockside gardens, hosts regular Friday-night family Sailabration events that combine food and fireworks with lively cruises and contests. When not sailing through their own programs, Seven Seas' captains and boats have been featured as crews in The Sullivans and Bruce Almighty.
Sean and Hannah Maurer founded Lake Lane Fishing and Hunting Getaway so families could have a place to experience the outdoors together. The fishing grounds—a trout pond, a second pond with bass, bluegills, and bullhead catfish, and a creek—stay open all year for fishing by appointment, and since Lake Lane is a New York State Fishing Preserve, no license is required. In addition to renting gear and selling bait, the staff teaches angling basics, such as how to fly fish or catch a fish directly in your mouth. The 2013 Sports Show on June 1 and 2 features a free youth fishing tournament. Adults must pay a $25 registration fee for a trout and bass tourney, but cash prizes will be awarded to all age groups. Pre-registration is recommended.
Lake Lane's hunting grounds host both small and big game, including wild turkey and white-tailed deer. A shooting range also caters to hunters with bow and rifle targets. In order to help guests extend their outdoor adventures, campsites for self-contained tents and campers are available, and the Maurers have plans to introduce all-season cabins equipped with outlets for sno-cone machines in the near future.
Members of Lake Lane Fishing and Hunting Getaway get special privileges, such as entry in the monthly trout and bass fishing tournament. Additionally, Lake Lane hosts special annual events, including a sports show and chicken barbecue, and the Maurers operate a small lumberyard and sawmill onsite that offers custom furniture from black walnut coffee tables to computers made of solid oak.
In June 2001, Tim Grech gave up his corporate job to build a skydiving centre on 347 acres of pristine property. Tim and his team of CSPA-certified instructors introduce amateurs to the sky through guided-tandem or assisted-solo jumps and shepherd experienced jumpers through the progressive freefall. The bustling skydive centre boasts scenic views of Grand River, along with free camp sites with fire pits and communal barbecues for roasting freshly plucked clouds on a stick.