The Lake Geneva region is one big (wonderful) community. But, in reality, it is made up of several independent municipalities that are clustered together.
One of those municipalities — Williams Bay — is marking a significant milestone this year.
Happy birthday, Williams Bay. Your village is 100 years old. Williams Bay was incorporated as a municipality in 1919.
To commemorate the occasion, the Village of Williams Bay, the Williams Bay Historical Society and others around town have done a good job of planning a festive day Oct. 19, with a mix of civic pride and celebration.
We hope everyone in Williams Bay turns out to join in the fun, if for no other reason than being able to tell your children and grandchildren later how you celebrated the village’s centennial.
This is an historic moment, Williams Bay.
Pop the champagne. Bring out the good china. Live it up.
Others around the lake might want to take this occasion, too, to pause and consider how far we have come as a cluster of small cities: Lake Geneva, Williams Bay, Fontana, Walworth, the town of Linn, town of Geneva and the rest.
Each municipality enjoys its own identity and exhibits its own personality. Still, we call one another neighbors because we share one overriding attribute — that gorgeous lake out there.
For its part, Williams Bay has been a strong and valuable partner in the region through its support for lake management efforts and other regional priorities. It has nurtured Gage Marine and other important businesses. It has invested in strong public schools and vital infrastructure. It has been home to Yerkes Observatory, George Williams College, the Water Safety Patrol and other valuable resources.
It is known, of course, for having a beautiful bay that gives a distinctive shape to the lake.
The bay is a popular spot for fishing, swimming and boating. No sightseeing boat cruise on Geneva Lake is complete without turning into the bay and taking a look at what a charming village Williams Bay has become.
During the wintertime, Williams Bay in recent years has put together an eye-catching holiday light display that makes the village’s downtown look like something out of a Charles Dickens novel.
Which is not to say that Williams Bay has not suffered its share of setbacks as a community.
In 1922, the village’s first schoolhouse burned to the ground. A tornado struck and caused heavy damage on Palm Sunday in 1965. Last year, Yerkes Observatory closed its doors, leaving an uncertain future for the beloved lakefront landmark.
Through it all, however, Williams Bay has endured and continued to serve this region well.
So, at this milestone moment, we raise our champagne glass and toast the Williams Bay centennial. Congratulations from all of your neighbors. And best wishes for another 100 years.