The lake looks forlorn when it is down five feet. Yet the five-year drawdown facilitates dock repairs and also allows for a lake-wide cleanup. This year’s special cleanup day was scheduled for Saturday morning, November 3. Despite the rainy weather, many kids and adults showed up.

Various organizations provided volunteers for the cleanup. The Lake Hopatcong Foundation estimated about 400 participants at more than 40 locations around the lake. Many of the volunteers were among the 175 people who had attended the foundation’s beefsteak dinner at St. Jude Roman Catholic Church in Hopatcong. Many others were from Scout troops and various organizations.

Docks and Brady Bridge exposed by the drawdown. (Photo: Jane Primerano)

Workers started at 8 a.m., negotiating the muck in their waders and Wellingtons. The water temperature was about 50 degrees. Pickup sites in Jefferson included Brady Bridge, Great Cove near the state police barracks, and several locations in Prospect Point.

Children from Hilltop Country Day School in Sparta were stationed in Prospect Point off Chincopee Road. The event was their monthly community service project, said headmaster Kevin Folan. He had heard about the cleanup approximately six weeks earlier, and immediately consulted the online map to choose a location.

Hilltop Country Day School students with some of their finds. From left, Jonathan Brugna (8), Logan Turner (10), Keegan Folan (4), Henry Uhlir (4), James Brugna (10), and Robin Guarda (12). (Photo: Jane Primerano)

Debbie Hartmann, who moved to Chicopee Road in the spring, encountered the kids while walking with her dog. “It’s like a tailgate party,” she said, as the children and parents brought old tires and other debris up from the lake. The youngsters discovered a rusted garbage can and plenty of broken glass – but no treasures, they said. Although they found the tires “gross,” they were fascinated by a dead frog.

The first cleanup sponsored by the Lake Hopatcong Foundation five years ago netted 23,000 pounds of trash. Results of the 2018 cleanup were still being tallied at the time of this writing.

Trash bags wait for pickup opposite Tiny’s Tavern. (Photo: Jane Primerano)

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