Close to 400 participants, some wearing costumes, some wearing bathing suits and some wearing street clothes, “leaped” into Lake Hopatcong Saturday, February 8, at the annual Lake Hopatcong Elks Leap in the Lake fundraiser, a tradition 11 year in the making.
The event, held at the beach at Hopatcong State Park in Landing, raised more than $50,000 this year, said coordinator Rick Gathen.
“With the money raised this year, we will surpass $600,000 in money raised over the years,” Gathen announced.
Three dozen leapers representing Patrick’s Pub in Hopatcong helped raise close to $12,000 for Saturday’s event, earning the distinction of being top earners among the dozens of groups participating, which included bars, friends and families, a scout troop and the Hawthorne Caballeros Drum & Bugle Corps.
“The Village Salooners are giving a run for our money,” said Patrick’s Pub groupie Jill Ayers of Hopatcong, referring to The Village Saloon from Sparta.
“We’ve doubled the amount of money we raised last year, which was our first year doing this,” said Village Saloon owner Barbara Toth. The group—they called themselves The Village People—raised close to $10,000 this year.
A group of 27 bare-chested and sock-wearing men from the Knotty Pine Pub in Wharton helped raise $3000.
Boy Scout Troop 188 from Landing, the only scout troop to participate, pitched in $500 again this year, with just under a dozen Scouts and adults braving the cold Lake Hopatcong water.
And a group from The Greek’s bar in Newton, came wearing home-made togas and looking very Greek, raised $700 for the cause.
“Togas from now on!” said one excited participant.

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