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Batavia Boogie

Popular skydiving event grounded

By Howard B. Owens

The Batavia Boogie, which has brought skydivers from all over the region to Genesee County Airport for 19 years, is grounded, reports WBTA.

Paul Gath of Frontier Skydivers said his group decided to cancel this years event rather than fight the county over liability concerns.

Last year, a skydiver died when his parachute failed to open.

County Legislator Jay Grasso explains the county's position.

News roundup: Parachute was functional

By Philip Anselmo

Check out WBTA for this and other stories:

  • Investigations by the FAA into the skydiving death of 61-year-old Joseph Schickler at the Batavia Boogie on July 3 have revealed that the parachute Schickler wore during the jump was fully functional. That does not explain why the chute failed to open.

News roundup: Could the county ground the Batavia Boogie?

By Philip Anselmo

It wasn't until page three of today's Daily Fly Swat that I got to what seemed to me pretty big news — although Correspondent Susan J. Conrad's account of Oakfield's sesquicentennial on the front page was a lot of fun. In big, bold type, the headline at the top of the Local section reads: "County may ground Boogie."

Most folks may have already heard that this year's Batavia Boogie skydiving festival began with a fatal fall last Thursday when a diver's chute did not open. The story was covered extensively, and the Boogie continued through Sunday.

Itr turns out, that fatality may have more lasting repercussions for the annual festival.

County Manager Jay Gsell told Reporter Paul Mrozek that the county may "not allow the Batavia Boogie to continue" because "if an event increases the county's risk of liability, the county does not automatically approve the activity." Nothing concrete has been established. No one has yet said 'No' definitively. In fact, that's all the news there is: the county may not allow it. I put in a call to the county manager to see what exactly it would take for the county to deny the Boogie its permits for next year. I was told that he should call back later this afternoon.

UPDATE: I spoke with the county manager, who got back to me within the hour. He told me that there would not be anything specific that would make the county deny the Boogie its permits. Rather, the county will consider the Boogie more of a "secondary liability." In other words, the county does not want to get sued as a result of something happening at the Boogie, since it would be happening on county grounds.

Gsell also made clear that the county cannot "ground" the Boogie at all, so the Daily News headline is slightly misleading. The only activities the county can deny the festival goers are: camping, the use of the grounds for overnight stay and conduct of any business. If the FAA grants the skydivers permission to jump, there is nothing the county can say to the contrary.

In other news...

Target's new store in the shopping center off Veteran's Memorial Drive is slated to open July 27 — and everything seems to be on schedule. The center's other residents — Bed Bath & Beyond, Petco, Michael's and Famous Footwear — should open throughout the fall.

Reporter Kristen Kotz looks into the popularity of roadside fruit and vegetable stands. Neat article.

Remember: you can pick up your very own copy of the Daily Fly Swat wherever newspapers are sold — like, say, Main Street Coffee. Or, better yet, go subscribe at

Ramble and Boogie: On stage and in the air in Batavia

By Philip Anselmo

It has been more than a few days since I've had the privilege and opportunity to get online and share the news and happenings here in Batavia with you folks. That's in part due to the holiday of the Fourth, which I spent with family, grilling dogs, tossing a frisbee and being as American as I could be — not always easy for a self-professed francophile.

My absence from this virtual space is also in part due to all the time I spent enjoying myself at Batavia's summer festivals this past weekend. Quite simply, I was having too much fun behind the camera and out of doors to get inside to my office to tend to the behind-the-scenes work. But the fruits of those labors will now pay off. So be sure to check back with the site throughout the day. We'll have a couple videos going up about the Ramble Music and Arts Fest and the Batavia Boogie skydiving festival.

For now, here are some highlights of Saturday's action courtesy of the lens of Sonia Mineo who was kind enough to snap some still shots of the weekend festivities while I busied myself behind the video camera.

Sometimes, all you need is a zoom lens to get up into the clouds. That was all it took for Sonia to snap this shot of a parachutist coming in for a landing at the Genesee County Airport Saturday afternoon. It almost looks as if he's sitting on a cloud, just hanging out up there.

It was quite a sight to behold, as the planes full of 20 or so skydivers soared up through the clouds, higher and higher until the fuselage seemed no bigger than my pinky nail. You couldn't see any of the divers for a minute or so, not with the naked eye.

Then, all of the sudden, you saw them — a dozen or more colored blips in the azure of the sky.

Some of them pulled fancy moves on their way down, spinning or spiralling with their chutes. Most, when they landed, came down with a trot onto their bums or on their sides or into a quick tumble through the grasses. A few of them, however, came down walking, almost nonchalantly, as if there were no difference between pedalling through the air and stepping on the ground, so graceful and fluid were they.

While it was hard to ignore the tragic start of the Boogie on Thursday, when Brighton native Joseph Schickler fell to his death when his parachute failed to deploy, most of the divers continued to take to the air. We even overheard a few say that that was what Schickler, who was known for his sense of humor and good cheer, would have wanted.

Chalk art was a big hit at the Ramble Saturday. Artists young and old — including mural artist Vinny DelPlato — filled up more than half of School Street with their multicolor scribblings.

But as you might have expected, the music was of course the main draw. At a few times during the day, Saturday, it was a pretty tight squeeze in Jackson Square.

Be sure to visit the site later this afternoon for video coverage of both events.

Can you Boogie?

By Philip Anselmo

This wide blue expanse out beside the Genesee County Airport runways will soon be full of falling bodies — connected to parachutes, of course. Frontier Skydivers' annual tandem jump fest, Batavia Boogie, kicks off tomorrow and runs through the weekend. The empty fields here will come alive with RVs and eager parachutists. Hot air balloons will take to the sky. Anyone can attend. Spectators are welcome.

The Batavian will revisit the "dropzone" again tomorrow to chat with the festival's organizer, Paul Gath, and get an inside look at what to expect for the rest of the week. Expect to see some video on The Batavian — we're trying to even get some jump footage, too — this weekend.

Visit the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce or Frontier Skydivers for more information.

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