MOHEGAN LAKE, N.Y. – Dozens of area residents soaked up the sun on Saturday and enjoyed Mohegan Lake’s many beaches with fishing, boat races, demonstrations and more at the annual Lake Day celebration.

The event started at 8 a.m. with volunteers working to make a hiking trail around Rock Hill Park (formerly Holland Sporting Club). That was followed by a fishing derby at Mohegan Beach Park. Children and adults cast their rods into the lake and did their best to catch largemouth bass, sunfish and all the other species that call Mohegan Lake their home.

“The lake is very plentiful of all these panfish,” said Tom Maietto, the lake’s resident fishing expert. “I love doing this for the kids. I get a kick out of it. This is the best way for them to learn to fish, with light tackle and lots of catches.”

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One of the day’s highlights was the hotly contested boat races at Lake Mohegan Park. Residents brought their own boats and competed in canoes, stand-up paddleboards, rowboats and kayaks.

Throughout the day, there were also several presentations about turtles, invasive species and future plans for Rock Hill Park. There was also a “State of the Lake” Q&A.

The event concluded at Mohegan Colony Beach with a pot luck dinner, live music and Chinese floating lanterns. The different colored lanterns, resembling lotus flowers, were pushed off into the water with candles inside, lighting up Mohegan Lake.

Lake Day started decades ago but stopped for more than a decade as Mohegan Lake became overrun with invasive plants and excessive nutrients. The event was brought back in 2011 by the Mohegan Lake Improvement District (MLID) as part of its attempt to revitalize the lake.

MLID is a special tax district comprising homeowners from around the lake and set up for the purpose of preserving and improving the lake environment. The founders of MLID recognized that if the lake was to remain desirable for recreational use, work was needed to reverse some of the human environmental impacts on the lake. MLID is comprised of volunteer directors and officers.

All photographs by Ken Belfer and Brian Marschhauser