August 28, 2010
CELINA — For the first time in 14 years of Governor’s Cup races, the boats stayed on their trailers Saturday. That’s not to say all eyes weren’t on the water.
Organizers of the popular boat races canceled their plans earlier this summer, shortly after state officials began advising people against boating on the algae-laden water of Grand lake St. Marys. They replaced the race with a party, a daylong concert aimed at raising money to help fix the very problem that ended the race.
But boats or no boats, the lake remained the focus for most of those attending the event.
“It’s looking good right now. That’s the irony of it,” said Kelly Creamer as he looked out over the lake. “The water looks pretty clear, the smell is gone. It looks like they could be racing. Of course, it does that when they make other plans.”
The lake did look and smell better Saturday than it has most of the summer. And state officials have pretty much acknowledged that fact. On Thursday, the Departments of Natural Resources and Health and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency dropped their advisories against boating on the lake, saying the levels of toxins had dropped in recent weeks. Advisories against direct contact with the water or eating fish from the lake remain.
That word from the state is the closest thing to good news locals have heard all summer. Still, organizers of Saturday’s festival said spirits remained high and the fact the festival even exists shows a desire to move forward.
“This is just so demonstrative of the spirit and passion of this community. The Governor’s Cup could have just rolled up and given up for the year. Instead, here we are, raising money to make things better,” said Milt Miller, fundraising chairman for the Grand Lake Restoration Committee.
All proceeds from Saturday’s event went to the local effort to fix the lake’s problems. In addition to beer and food sales, volunteers sold Save the Lake T-shirts and wristbands. But that’s just a portion of the fundraising that’s taken place throughout the summer.
“We had two Vacation Bible School groups give us the money they raised from the little children’s piggy banks. One of them gave us $927 and the other gave us $300. That just about made me cry,” Miller said.