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Norwood finishing final touches for Lake Regatta

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NORWOOD - With Saturday’s 24th annual Norwood Lake Regatta on the horizon, Norwood is finishing its final preparations for the highly hyped event.

Gates open at 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday with the watercross races beginning at 11 a.m. both days. The festivities also include bounce houses, vendors, slides, crafts, and plenty of food.

The event, which is put on by the Norwood Lake Association, features activities for all ages and interests, according to Mayor James H. McFaddin.

“The weather will be picture perfect for the weekend and it looks like ideal temperatures and plenty of sun. That’s a big plus for the regatta. We’re up in the 35 area (for vendors). We estimate around 1,000 people coming for the event, give or take a few,” Mr. McFaddin said.

The regatta will take place at Norwood Beach, and Mr. McFaddin is eager for the weekend to get underway, in particular the watercross races. The field will feature both professionals and semi-pros competing in 600 and 800 oval races (which refer to the engine sizes.)

Additionally, one amateur will get the opportunity to be instructed by a pro and then try their hand at going through the race course. “A couple years ago a man from Akwesasne was able to do it and complete the race. (The competitors) complete oval races. There are four in a heat. The winner moves on to the next heat and the winners in one heat will progress into the finals,” Mr. McFaddin said. “It’s really exciting, fast paced. They bring 30-50 race officials, families and drivers. The comments we’ve received in the past is they really like the area. It’s really good exposure for the north country.”

During the association’s annual meeting, it was determined for the second consecutive year some of the profits made from the regatta will be used to eradicate Milfoil in Norwood Lake. Eurasion Milfoil is an invasive plant that has invaded many lakes in St. Lawrence County.

The organization was established in the 1980s due to unacceptable water quality that was caused by industrial discharges which closed the beach on occasion. Additionally, a total of 56 grievances were recorded at an association meeting in result of a small hydro development that threatened homeowner properties. All grievances were eventually favorably resolved.

“The profits are very good for our community. We’re very focused on milfoil right now. In a study conducted by Clarkson University, it was determined that if milfoil took over Norwood Lake it would take over 80 percent of the lake within 10 years. We’re dedicated to using the profits to help eradicate the milfoil,” Mr. McFaddin said.

Profits will also be used to benefit residents through the operation of a recycling center that the association established in 1990. Over 300 residents dispose of 75 percent of household waste at no charge each Saturday.

Admission for the Norwood Lake Regatta is $5 for adults with children 12 and under able to attend for free.

David McLean and his wife Christine, Greenland, N.H, spent Thursday night at the Massena International Kampgrounds, before heading to Norwood today in preparation for the weekend’s watercross races. Both Mr. McLean and his son, Adam, will be competing this weekend, the second consecutive year they have made the trek to Norwood.

“We’ve competed in Flat Rock (Lowville), Walton, Union, Ct., and Freemont, N.H. I am a semi-pro and my son is a pro,” Mr. McLean said. “We started coming here three to four years ago when we heard about it from some friends and we were racing so we started coming here.”

David and Adam have been competing in watercross racing for six years and were introduced to the sport by a family friend.

“You’re doing something that’s not supposed to be done. Snowmobiles don’t float. In experience, 1 in 10 people that try (watercross racing) succeed,” Mr. McLean said. “(You need) persistence to keep going and just keep trying. You need to figure out gearing, speed, and track speed. It took us two years (to learn).”

Being an annual event, Mr. McFaddin explained how dedicated many of the volunteers are in order to make the event the success that it is.

“Volunteers have been working to get ready for about nine months. The last four days have been intense. We’re putting the final touches to make sure that the visitors to the regatta will have a pleasant experience. It’s a very, very important event to our community,” he said.

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