Fourth of July at Watauga Lake, as it is at many lakes across the region, is peak time. Thousands of boaters will hit the lake’s familiar cold waters as they do every year, reveling in a tradition that spans generations for some enthusiastic lake families who make the annual pilgrimage. For a third year, the Watauga Lake community is putting its best foot forward just in time for the holiday.
Our Community Gives Back, an organization of people who live on and/or use Watauga Lake, has organized the annual Watauga Lake Cleanup since 2010. The first year, approximately 200 people pitched into the effort. The bar was raised during the second year when 260 showed up. On Saturday, June 30, organizers hope to do it again. According to Mary Salter, president of Our Community Gives Back, the work is hard but finding volunteers is just the opposite.
“There’s a strong sense of community to be found on Watauga Lake,” said Salter. “To some it’s home, and to others it’s their home away from home, and to us all it’s a place of beauty and source of pride. We want to make sure others who find their way to this lake see that and that’s why this cleanup is so important.”
The group will end its day’s work at Fish Springs Marina for an after-cleanup celebration of food, games and music by five-piece band True Grass. Marina owner Thomas White sponsors the cleanup each year.
“It’s important to me as a boater, and as business owner that depends on the tourism Watauga Lake provides,” said White. “I’m excited every year to see so much support from the lake community.”
Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. at Little Milligan Boat Launch off Highway 321 and Moody Road (New Johnson County Location), and Fish Springs Marina, 191 Fish Springs Road, Hampton. Volunteers will be given gloves and trash bags before scanning the waterways and the shoreline across the full expanse of the lake in both Johnson and Carter counties. Once registrants return to the drop-off points with trash, they will be given wristbands for admittance to an after cleanup celebration.
Trash drop-off dumpsters will be located at Fish Springs Marina, Little Milligan Boat Launch off Highway 321 and Moody Road and Sink Mountain Boat Ramp off Highway 167 and Doe Creek Road. Trash can be dropped off at these locations from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.
There will be a celebration party following the cleanup at Fish Springs Marina beginning at 3 p.m. The Celebration Picnic is accessible from both land and water. Volunteers must have an admission wristband for the Cleanup Celebration Picnic upon delivery of trash at the drop-off locations. It is suggested that volunteers bring folding chairs to the celebration party.
There will be food, music and prizes all donated by local and regional businesses, as well as civic-minded citizens. Door prize drawings will be held at the Celebration Picnic and you must be present to win. No one will be admitted to the Celebration Picnic without a wristband. A door prize raffle ticket will be given for each bag of trash collected.
Prizes, donations and sponsorships are being accepted. For information, to volunteer or donate, call Mary Salter at 768-0363.