Friday Night Fireworks leads to Saturday Morning Cleanup
Sometime around 1950 the Lake Hopatcong Yacht Club began the tradition of shooting off fireworks from the concrete docks located in front of the club. That tradition continued again Friday night when tens of thousands of visitors to Lake Hopatcong were treated to a 15-minute long show courtesy of LHYC.
About 2000 of those visitors, both local residents and out-of-towners, descended on Mount Arlington Beach, including the Siniscal family from Union, who found out about the Lake Hopatcong fireworks event after conducting an online search.
The family enjoys watching fireworks, especially over water, said mom Susan. On July 4 they ventured to Bradley Beach to see that town’s display but were disappointed with the experience. “They just sort of fizzled out,” said Siniscal. As first-time visitors to Lake Hopatcong they were pleasantly surprised to see how beautiful the lake was. “It’s nice here,” said Siniscal. “This a place we would like to come back to during the summer.”
The Mount Arlington Fireworks Beach Bash was hosted by the town’s recreation commission. The event took a seven-year hiatus but came back last year, said recreation administrative clerk Brenda Temple, partly due to the fact that there “are more volunteers” willing to help host an event of this magnitude.
“We brought it back in 2012, last year. We had about 800 people show up. This year we advertised, hung a banner and added more amenities,” said Temple. “We’re building it. This year is better than last year.”
“No doubt we will get at least 2000 people,” said Michael Strickler, chairperson of the Board of Recreation Commission, just before sunset the night of the fireworks.
Two decades ago the fireworks launch area was moved from the yacht club docks to barges moored in the lake just off shore of the club. According to Danny Flinn, a life-long yacht club member and fireworks event volunteer, the four old barges weighed 21,000 pounds each and had to be towed to and from a storage location up the lake for every fireworks event. This year however the club purchased four new floating docks that were used for the fireworks but that are used all season as extra dock space for club members.
“The new floating docks worked to perfection,” said Flinn standing on the docks and sweeping fireworks debris into piles. The old barges, still in storage “just in case” the new system failed, will probably be “sold for scrap metal” said Flinn, now that the new ones passed the initiation test.
Funding for the fireworks comes from yacht club member dues and some outside donations. The yacht club accepts fireworks donations all year long. To donate send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Saturday morning the Lake Hopatcong Foundation spearheaded an “after fireworks clean-up” by asking volunteers to patrol the lake for debris left behind from the thousands of boaters who moored off Bertrand Island for the show.
Jessica Murphy, president of the LHF, stationed at the yacht club docks Saturday morning, handed out garbage bags to volunteers who came by boat and kayak to help patrol. Of the eight volunteers scouring the water and shoreline from Brady Bridge down past Bertrand Island, all reported little to no garbage in the water and only a half of a garbage bag was brought to the yacht club for disposal. The same cleanup conducted after last year’s fireworks produced 10 bags of garbage, said Murphy. She believes that the Foundation’s preemptive measures were the key to this year’s clean waters. During the day on Friday Murphy and other Foundation volunteers went to marinas and boat launch venues delivering a quantity of small garbage bags for boaters to use while enjoying the fireworks.
As the boats find their spots on the lake, visitors to the Mount Arlington Beach area enjoy some beach volleyball.
Jessica Murphy, president of the Lake Hopatcong Foundation, right, takes a half-empty bag of garbage from the Steinbaum boat. To the delight of all the LHF volunteers, not much garbage was spotted in the lake after the Friday night fireworkds celebration.