Wednesday, February 08, 2012

I will never forget Sunrise Resort

My family and I vacationed at Sunrise Resort every year since I was 5 years old till I was almost 20.  We stayed there every third week of July with the same group of people we met and became really good friends with while staying there.  

I remember going to the little kiddie area next to the basketball court and spending the day with a bunch of other little kids while our parents enjoyed their time by the big pool and other amenities.  My family and I, the group we always hung out with when we were all there have so many good, fun and amazing memories of the resort. 
Our group was notorious for dressing up one day of the week and showing up during the morning band wake up route with Coo Coo.  One year, we dressed up as the Keystone Cops, another year we dressed up as hobos and created a little hobo camp down by the river along the route that Coo Coo would take the band to the dining room down by the river.  We would surprise him and all of the other guests and have a huge laugh.  Another year, we dressed up as a nudist colony.  We had a fence set up and all of use stood behind the fence, and all you could see was our heads and shoulders and then our legs.  My father, stood at the end of the fence holding a guitar over himself with nothing else on, he had on a small bathing suit behind the guitar.  It was hilarious to see all of the people's faces and the look on Coo Coo's face was priceless.  Our last year there together, and our last dress up performance was dressing up as little people with really big hats.  We did a little dance routine behind the cabanas for Coo Coo and the morning band, and then got to perform in the big show at the end of the week in the clubhouse for all of the adults.

I grew up at the resort, every July.  I met so many people, had so many summer flings with girls that I had met each time.  I even met my first real girlfriend there the summer of 1989.  We dated all through high school and even went to the same college together.  Sadly, we broke up my sophomore year and her freshmen year at school.  The spa/hot tub area was the place that we always hung out at.  That was where the teens hung out, made out and were able to be away from the parents.  We would also go the the snack bar by the pool and eat french fries and soda as a mid day snack.  Those french fries were so good, and I can still smell them.

The pool was awesome!  The high diving board was the best.  I first went off that board when I was 7 years old.  It was scary at first, but so much fun.  I used to do can openers off that thing and send water splashing every where on the deck and high into the air.  Everyone wanted to see just how high I could get the splash.  Most of the time, it went higher than the roof of the cabanas.  

The softball game between the guests and the staff was awesome too!  My biggest memory of that was when I was about 15 or 16, I was playing centerfield.  A ball was hit into the gap toward the "Frog".  I ran it down and turned and fired to home plate.  Unfortunately, my throw was a little off, as the ball sailed over the back stop and into the grassy area across the road by the pool.  Yeah, I must have thrown the ball 300 feet or more before it hit the ground.

I remember where my rooms were that we stayed in each year.  We stayed in the big white hotels over by the spa/hot tubs one year.  We stayed in the rustic cabins that were up on the hill behind the ball field for many years.  Mostly in the rooms in the lower parts of the cabins which the doors were on the back side along the edge of the hill above the cabins that the staff that lived on the resort stayed in.  The names of the cabins slip my mind, but I know exactly which room and cabin I stayed in.  From there, we stayed in the cabanas, our rooms were on the parking lot side on the second floor right near the basketball court and horse shoe pits.  The arcade and ping pong tables were in the covered area adjacent to the cabanas and directly behind the club house.  Those ping pong tables are where I first learned how to play the game of ping pong.  They were also the same tables I won my first ping pong tournament.

The resort was great for kids of all ages.  At night there were so many activities for all age groups.  I remember spending so many nights with Jock-O at the white building as you would walk down the hill towards the dining room from the cabanas, there was a white building on the left of the path.  There were stairs to get down to it.  Jock-O would play games and run casino nights and stuff like that for the kids.  The teens got to hang out with another staff member, Rusty was the guy who ran the teen activities while I was there as a teenager.  He would DJ at the pavilion behind the tennis courts, and we would have a dance party.  He ran all of the sports activities.  He even set up movie nights at Echo Hall.

The food was outstanding.  Every meal was delicious and the variety was perfect.  The themed meals were incredible as well.  The paddle breakfast was a great tradition.  Take a canoe down the river to a field where they had tables set up and a pancake buffet style breakfast waiting for you.  The Luau was another great traditional themed meal.  The food was cooked on huge grills and you ate at picnic tables.  Music playing all the time.  Just unbelievable.  The memories are amazing.  I love Sunrise Resort.

I was so sad to hear that it was closing and I am even more sad to know that it has been abandoned and unmaintained over the past three years.  It is a shame that nothing has been done to preserve such a great place that so many people made so many memories at.  To see the pictures of it all overgrown, the pool empty, the windows broken and buildings falling apart makes me so sad to know that I spent so many years in those buildings, in that pool, walking along all of the roads and paths. 

Heck, I even worked there for a summer, as part of the house keeping staff.  I drove around in a beat up station wagon, stopping at all of the buildings the guests stayed in and picked up all of the dirty linen and towels that the housekeeping girls would take out of each room.  Not a great paying job, but I loved the place so much that I didn't care about the money.  I just loved being at the resort.

I will never forget Sunrise Resort.  I will never forget all of the people I met and made so many memories with.  I will never forget the people who worked there, like Coo Coo and Jock-O and Rusty who touched my life in such a way that it breaks my heart to know that that special place is no longer.  I would have liked to been able to take my son there for vacation every year and show him what a fun and great place Sunrise was. 

I hope that someday, someone will rescue that great piece of property and restore it back to Sunrise.  If it was open for business today, I would book my vacation there right now with my family and start making more memories.  I will continue to follow this story and pray that the state of CT does something good with this land.  It's too bad that it can't be renovated and kept as a museum or something.

Thank you,
--Sean Malo

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