By Stephen Rochette
More than 1000 people celebrated the great outdoors at Blue Marsh Lake on June 9 with kayaking, hiking, fishing and various outdoor and water safety activities.
'Get Outdoors Day,' hosted by the Army Corps of Engineers' Philadelphia District, included a visit from Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works and featured exhibits and demonstrations from 43 organizations from the region.
"Today's activities serve to recognize both the First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign and President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative," said Ms. Darcy. "Blue Marsh Lake is unique because it offers a great diversity of recreation opportunities to the surrounding communities and the region."
Blue Marsh Lake Natural Resource Manager John Cave said the event doubled in size from the prior years.
"In the past, this has been our annual water safety day, but we wanted to expand it," said Cave. "This was a very successful inaugural event and we were pleased with the turnout and we were honored by the visit from Ms. Darcy."
Cave added that the event would not have been possible without the hard work of Park Rangers Kathy Grim and Hallie Groff.
"The entire staff should be commended for their efforts for all the behind the scenes work that was done," said Cave. "It is also important to note that a number of volunteers and partner organizations are really what made the event a success."
"GO" Day featured a number of free activities throughout the day. A run, hike and nature walk kicked off the event while a kayaking sojourn was the highlight of the afternoon. Visitors enjoyed canine demonstrations, fishing workshops, and sailing and geocaching lessons. Some learned about the flood control functions of Blue Marsh on dam control tower tours.
Park Rangers and partner organizations also organized a number of water safety and health and wellness educational programs.
Philadelphia District Commander Lt. Col. Philip Secrist asked visitors to be mindful of water safety when enjoying Blue Marsh Lake or other recreational facilities.
"Please pay attention to the rangers and staff when it comes to safety and water safety in particular," said Secrist. "There's a great deal of fun to be had if we're responsible and safe about it."
He encouraged Blue Marsh visitors to enjoy the lake throughout the year.
"I challenge all of you to make this lake a reoccurring destination to expand your outdoor interest," said Secrist. Blue Marsh offers outdoor opportunities for all four seasons," he said.
Blue Marsh Lake receives approximately 1 million visitors a year. It has more than 36 miles of trails, 1,147 acres of water surface, picnic areas, a beach and three boat launches. For more information, visit the Philadelphia District web site at www.nap.usace.army.mil or the Blue Marsh Lake Facebook page: www.facebook.com/bluemarshlake