The Lake Hopatcong State Park was taken over and divided into dedicated areas for indoctrinating activities Sunday, September 24th. No nefarious forces at work here, only the Lake Hopatcong Foundation’s Fifth Annual Lake Loop. The LHF has become prominent in promoting the “lake life” on New Jersey’s largest lake, and the Lake Loop is just one of their tools. With a whole slate of family friendly offerings, those attending could be as active or passive as they wanted, ride a bike hard for 60 miles or paddle gently in a kayak around the beautiful lake. Even some shopping was available.
Jennifer DeWitt, Development Director for the Foundation, was the mastermind of the day’s events with 90 volunteers at her command. Taking her spot at the start of the dog walk completion (yes competition – the most laps won a prize) with her large straw hat, she greeted each new four-legged contestant with a biscuit and a scratch behind the ears. Within seconds she made new friends of all of them.
DeWitt stated the event makes up at least 25% of the foundations budget and is the largest and most complicated fundraiser they take on each year. It is used to fund the various lake protection and education programs the LHF is involved with in the four surrounding towns. She said she just loves the event and the meeting the dogs is her favorite part, but seeing everyone enjoy the lake brings satisfaction. The route on the bike runs she explained was designed to provide the most views of the lake to the riders. All three distances that riders could choose to undertake; the 20-mile, 40-mile, or 62-mile loop; hugged the lake shore as much as possible.
Visitors and participants flowed in and out of the State Park with a variety of activities or vendor/sponsor booths to offer products or advice. Besides the obvious bike related activities there was a 2 ½ mile kayak course and a 1 ½ mile adventure hiking trail. With no set start times, just show up with your kayak or hiking shoes and take on the course or trail. After the calorie burning activities, a picnic lunch was available to participants, who could get a memory preserving photo taken in the portable photo booth.
If the muscles were a little tired, there was a table masseuse available to get the kinks out. If there were kinks in your bike, a mechanic from Marty’s Cycle was on hand to work them out as well.
But mainly the day was filled with people of like minds enjoying each other’s company. Be the connection be dogs, bikes, kayaking, boating or just the “lake life” it was as DeWitt said at the start enjoy the people and enjoy the lake like her.
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