Hampton Beach Legends Lauded
Ceremony Honors Three
By Amy Kane
Hampton Union, Tuesday, August 19, 2008
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON -- Three men, whose contributions over decades to business and tourism helped make Hampton Beach what it is today, were honored Saturday evening in a ceremony at the Sea Shell Stage.
On Aug. 17, the Hampton Beach Village District Precinct recognized Fred Schaake, co-owner of the Casino Ballroom; Skip Windemiller, a former precinct commissioner and owner of the Oceanside Inn, and the late Doc McGinnis, who performed weekly sing-alongs on the Sea Shell Stage in the 1960s.
The ceremony, hosted by Hampton Beach entertainment coordinator Jack Knox, took place just before a free concert by Tops in Blue, a U.S. Air Force Band, and was followed by fireworks over the beach.
Nature's own fireworks of thunder, lightning and hail that afternoon contributed to a delay in setting up the 40-person Air Force show, which was hosted by the New Hampshire Air National Guard. Tops in Blue was also behind schedule due to aircraft equipment problems at the band's previous venue in Nebraska, and traffic tie-ups on the way from Portsmouth International Airport a Pease.
"The show normally takes four hours to set up, but they did it in two -and-a-half," Knox told the audience.
Every bench was occupied, beach chairs were set up around the perimeter, and throngs of people were standing on Ocean Boulevard, which had been blocked off by police for the duration of the concert.
Knox introduced each honoree in turn, sharing biographical facts about the men and their families. Knox and Maureen Buckley, events coordinator for the village district precinct, presented plaques.
Knox said that years before he purchased the Casino Ballroom, Fred Schaake had worked there.
"Those were the days when gentlemen paid 10 cents a dance," he said. After serving in the Army in World War II, Schaake began investing in real estate and developing properties in Seabrook and Hampton Beach.
In 1976, he purchased the Casino Ballroom and replaced the bowling alley with retail space. Most of the businesses have leased the same space for the past 30 years, said Knox.
Schaake has served on many boards over the years. In 1984, he built the water slide. Schaake has been married to his wife, Elaine, for 48 years. They have four children and eight grandchildren, said Knox.
Skip Windemiller and his wife, Debbie, are celebrating the 30th anniversary of their ownership of the Oceanside Inn, said Knox. Windemiller served as a Hampton Beach Village District Precinct commissioner for 17 years. During his tenure, he pushed to get the playground remodeled, benches renovated at the Sea Shell Stage, and sidewalks replaced in a Church Street and Highland Road redevelopment plan.
Windemiller has been on the board of directors of the Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce for 20 years, and served on the Hampton budget committee.
'Doc' (Dr. John) McGinnis was known for hosting weekly sing-alongs at the beach, following in the footsteps of his friend Bill Elliot, "The Singing Cop."
McGinnis' family of six children often performed too, said Knox, providing entertainment for tourists for many years. They represented Hampton Beach at the New Hampshire pavilion at the World's Fair in New York City in 1964.
The last sing-along was in 1994. Doc died in 2006.
"He left behind a musical legacy," said Knox. "Some of his boys played in the band 'Us,' on the Sea Shell Stage in July."
Doc's sons Bill McGinnis, accepted the plaque on behalf of the McGinnis family).
"We love the beach and we're happy to be here," he said.
The Hampton Beach Village District Precinct began the tradition of honoring local individuals last year during its 100th anniversary celebration. Free concerts are offered every evening in summer at the Sea Shell Stage.