ROXBURY – Saturday's 5th Annual Lake Hopatcong Block Party did surprisingly well, despite ominous forecasts that warned of severe weather, said one of the event's organizers.
Radar showed a wall of heavy rain marching eastward toward the outdoor event on Saturday morning. A “severe weather” warning by the government spoke of thunderstorms that would bombard the region, including Lake Hopatcong State Park in Landing, the site of the party.
But somehow, the worst of the predicted mayhem missed the shindig. Saturday certainly wasn’t a pleasant day, there were passing showers and the temperature stayed in the 50s, augmented by a steady breeze. However, people still came out and seemed to have a good time, said Lake Hopatcong Foundation Board of Trustees Chairman Marty Kane.
"We peaked between 2 p.m. and 2:30 p.m," Kane said. "The police actually had to close the gate to the parking lot for a while because the lot filled up. We were actually thrilled with the final numbers that came through the gate."
Roxbury resident Bryan Callahan's drone video, including a song by one of the bands that performed - Tropical Storm - captures the scene:
Kane said about 2,000 people attended the affair, an event that has been plagued by rain - to varying degrees - every year. Last year was the worst; a nor'easter forced the non-profit foundation to cancel the Block Party.
"I have to say, we were actually a little bit overwhelmed that we had that many people come out yesterday in less- than-perfect conditions," Kane said. "I was really surprised."
He said he strolled the grounds at the end of the day and found that most vendors were happy they came. "The vendors really were very enthusiastic," said Kane. "The food vendors pretty much said they all did very well. The regular vendors said ... they got some good leads. People spoke to them."
It was hardly the beautiful day meteorologists predicted a few days earlier. Kane said he wonders just how big the Block Party would be if that ever happens.
Addressing the attendees at about 1 p.m. yesterday, Lake Hopatcong Foundation President Jessica Murphy expressed appreciation. “I just want to thank you all for being here,” she said, right before announcing the 50-50 winner. “We can’t seem to catch a break with weather at this event but thank you all for showing up anyway and bringing great energy and enthusiasm.”
Murphy also thanked the “gazilllions of volunteers” on hand, as well as the people on the Block Party’s planning committee who had been “working around the clock for months.”
“I was so heartbroken for them when we saw this weather situation was going to happen, but thank you to them and to our volunteers and to all of our vendors and everybody here today to make it what it is. I think it still has a great energy despite what Mother Nature is trying to do to us.”
Kane said he "got home feeling so good about everything," a feeling boosted by "lots of nice phone calls and emails and social media comments" received. "Toward the end, the last band had a big crowd watching," Kane added.