LAKE PLACID - Spring cleaning is an annual rite of many households this time of year. People open the window to let in fresh air, beat the dust out of the rugs, pack away the winter clothes, scrub the floors and rake the gardens.
In Lake Placid, under the guidance of the Lake Placid Garden Club, more than 175 people, ages 4 to 94, got together and gave the entire town a spring cleaning Saturday, May 10. And when that was all done, about a third of them jumped into the lake not to cool off, though they certainly do that, but to raise money for three local charities.
Good news this year was there was no ice in the lake, as there sometimes is, and it was a warm and sunny day, as it is sometimes not. The deal was to meet at the village beach house, pick one of nearly 60 different streets to clean of trash accumulated over the past year, take a few plastic bags, plastic gloves, and a few snack bars for the energy, and have at it. If you've got a car or truck, and are willing, you are given a pass so you may take your then-filled bags to the landfill, or you can leave them at a prominent corner, and volunteers will come around later to gather those remaining.
Students and adults enter Mirror Lake at the village beach Saturday, May 10 during the annual Plunge for a Cause event. (Photo — Naj Wikoff)
The reward, a free lunch at the beach house, the satisfaction of a job well done, and the pleasure of driving home and seeing nary a discarded cup or can in sight. For some, though, like 17 members of the Lake Placid High School Honor Society, it is determining who found either the most interesting or disgusting object (more about that later). For the past eight years, Heidi Roland had the pleasure of organizing the effort and coordinating the details with her team, and this year was the greater pleasure of passing on the duties to sisters Andrea Grout and Trisha Garrett.
"Passing the baton feels liberating," said Roland while helping a couple select an unclaimed street. "I am still involved, but being the organizer should never stay in one person's fist forever and it was great to pass it to the sisters."
"There are about 30 of us here," said pastor John Martin of the Adirondack Community Church. "We are doing both sides of Parkside Drive and Peacock Park, then all the way down around past Stewart's, and back. We range from 4 to mid-40. We've got a herd here, that's a true statement. The church does monthly missions. Our mission this month is to come here and help with the Village Clean-up. We are looking for other volunteer opportunities in the area, so if you know of anything let us know."
"I have been finding just garbage and other stuff," said Gideon, one of the younger members of the church's team. "It's fun. I like cleaning up."
"I like to help out," chimed in Addison putting a plastic spoon in a bag. "I think other people should help too."
Scott and Linda Benty took on Old Military Road from the Averyville Road to the firehouse, one of the filthier spaces. "We have found beer cans, plastic bottles with chew juice, a lot of paper products from food things, car parts, and just trash," said Scott.
"This is my second bag," said Mary Welch working the north side of Route 73. "I started at the fairgrounds. This is a tough stretch because you have climb up and down the banks. I first walk along the top and then come back along the bottom. I go for the easy stuff and this method reduces the amount of up and down."
"It's going good," said her husband Dave, cleaning the other side of 73. "There is a lot of interesting stuff. I have found car parts, pieces of road signs, lots of beer and soda bottles, and at least 30 little one-shot whiskey bottles. Fun stuff. We are volunteering because we live here and use this stretch of road. We did the Ironman 10 years ago, and we like this stretch, so we thought we'd clean it."
How about those Honor Society volunteers? Last year, they found a Brazilian passport. This year, most disgusting was in the running with finalists being a bottle filled with urine, a beer bottle with maggots, and a mob of ants feasting on the remains in a tuna can. Tony Miller won a free cup of coffee at Starbucks for his winning entry of the urine.
Clearing such grim thoughts was the 7th annual Freezing for a Reason, as the Plunge for a Cause as it's also known. "The money raised today will go to support to the Tri-Lakes Animal Shelter and the Lake Placid and Wilmington Ecumenical Food Pantries. The money is equally divided," said event organizer Patti McConvey. "This event is all because of Marcy Fagan. It was her idea and is sponsored by the Kiwanis Club. We could not do this without them."
"We like to do community events with the public school," said Fagan, who teaches at Northwood School and, with the help of her colleague Erin Farmer, brought nearly 30 kids to the event. "I talked with Patti. She and I have been friends for a long time, and we just got a crew together."
"This is my first time, said Lake Placid Middle School Principal Theresa Lindsay. "There was no inspiration to do this. We were roped."
"We were told, 'You are going to be there right?'" said Dana Wood, Lake Placid High School principal.
"We understood it to be part of the job description," said Lindsay.
"Patti kept saying every time she saw us, 'So, have you got your suit picked out?'" said Wood.
"We were definitely strong armed," said Lindsay.
"There was no inspiration other than you will do it and not letting Patti down," said Wood.
"The water was not as bad as you might think," said Lindsay. "It's pretty chilly, but not freezing. Could be worse. There is no ice. The water was cold, actually refreshing, a bit like Ausable in August. It was surprisingly not too bad. I was pleasantly surprised."
"I thought it was going to be colder," said Wood.
"It was fun, and it's a good cause," said Lindsay, summing the feelings of all the volunteers.