Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Lake Floyd 4th

I enjoyed an old-fashioned 4th of July this year. My long-time friend from WVU grad school lives with his wife at Lake Floyd, which is west of Clarksburg, WV. It reminds me a lot of Lake Washington, below my hometown of Parkersburg, WV. I had a great-aunt (she was great in both ways—she was my mom’s aunt plus she was just plain great!) who had a wonderful home at Lake Washington, where all her extended family liked to visit. I can still remember all the details of her house, as well as the small fish pond in the rock garden, the majestic tall trees, and the lush green grass under my bare feet in her lawn.

Lake Washington was a lot like Lake Floyd. Both lakes were probably built in the 1920s by developers, who then sold lots around the lake. A common swimming area and clubhouse were developed for the residents to jointly own. I fondly recall the swimming area at Lake Washington, because that’s where I learned to swim and to dive.

Lake Floyd has a very nice clubhouse and swimming area, which becomes the focus for their 4th of July celebration. The first event I witnessed was the Irish Road Bowling competition. This is a “sport” that has been growing, and even earned a feature story on the TV show “CBS Sunday Morning” from the little town of Ireland, WV. Contestants roll a metal ball (about 3” in diameter) to see who can get to the finish with the fewest throws (see for more information).

Then it came time for the parade to the clubhouse. There were no marching bands or elaborate floats, but there were plenty of decorated bicycles, some interesting vehicles, a beauty queen, and Uncle Sam. Once everyone gathered around the clubhouse grounds (and after the National Anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance), the organized games began.

First, it was the obstacle race, with two parallel courses consisting of a tunnel constructed of hay bales, followed by some inner-tube obstacles, then a jump through a kiddie pool, before turning around a traffic cone and running back to the starting line, all while getting sprayed by a guy with a water hose.

Next came the sack race (individuals hopping to the finish inside a big burlap sack), followed by the three-legged race (pairs of contestants who each have one of their legs connected to the other’s leg), and finally the wheelbarrow race (one person uses only their arms, while their legs are carried by their partner).

Once the races were done, it was time for the tug-of-war competition, using a long, heavy nautical rope. All of these competitions were divided into successive age groups for the youngsters, ending with an open competition for everyone. On the final session of the tug-of-war (which was split by gender), the rope snapped with a loud crack, sending a crowded string of men on one side and women on the other side backwards and to the ground!

The final competition was the egg toss, where pairs of contestants threw raw eggs to each other over successively longer distances. By the time this game had ended, some of the contestants needed to go swimming to get the egg off their faces.

All these festivities have been a long-standing tradition within the Lake Floyd community. It was a grand celebration, but by emphasizing these simple games, it replicates how our ancestors celebrated Independence Day generations ago. With the clubhouse and its grounds all festooned with red, white, and blue decorations, and countless American flags fluttering in the breeze, it was a wonderful way to commemorate our nation’s 237th birthday!

A morning view of the clubhouse from across the lake prior to the big festivities.
[By the way, be sure to read the earlier essay I posted on this July 4th.]


  1. Lake Floyd is WEST of Clarksburg, but we'll forgive you for that error in appreciation of your excellent play-by-play description of our annual celebration of "The Fourth" here at the Lake. Thank you for your visit, hope you will return soon.

  2. Ooops! I apologize for the directional error--thanks for making me aware of it. I guess since I drove east from Parkersburg that morning, east was in my head. Lake Floyd is a great place, and I am so glad that traditions like sack races and wheelbarrow races are still being preserved. The 4th of July at Lake Floyd gives me a sense of what life in Mayberry (from the Andy Griffith show) or Mayfield (from Leave it to Beaver) must have been like!