Ford Field Party 2017

For fifth year, neighbors gathered this evening at Ford Field in South Woodlands for the Annual Summer Party.  The party started  early at 6 pm, and went late.  A generator was on hand to shine light on the dancing and partying.

The party is presented by South Woodland neighbors Willbee’s and Ford’s.

Marcia & Kent Ford — Candy & Andy Willbee

The evening included fund raising.  This year the target was the Strong Dam Fund.  Read about the dam repairs here, and the fundraising campaign to support it.

Well known to Clark Lakers is the band the played the music and could be heard echoing across the waters of the west end–13th Floor.


Dam Strong for Clark Lake

The dam at Ocean Beach is at risk.  An evaluation showed water seeping around the south side and underneath it.  If not corrected, it could lead to catastrophic failure.  Such collapse could lower the level of the lake by two to four feet.  To get an idea of where that would put the new shoreline, take a  yard stick and rest one end on the bottom.  Where water covers the top end suggests the location of the new shoreline.  Many lakefront properties would have far more front lawn and Clark Lake would dramatically shrink in size.

This is the second threat to the dam this decade.  In 2012 the Clark Lake Spirit Foundation contracted to have the north side of the dam repaired under similar circumstances.  No level of government or government agency claimed ownership or accepted responsibility for repair.  Knowing what the dam means to the preservation of Clark Lake, the Foundation accepted donations and oversaw restoration. 

Bendele Construction, contractor for the north side work, has been scheduled to repair the damaged south side.  The cost will exceed $10,000. 

The Foundation, a 501c3, is accepting funds for this repair work.  So far there have been several donations to the Dam Strong Fund.  Donations of any amount are gratefully received.  In view of the overall cost of repair, a special fundraising effort is underway–The Dam Strong Honor Roll.  Suggested giving amounts are each accompanied by Dam Dots.

$100 – One Dam Dot

$250 – Two Dam Dots

$500 – Three Dam Dots

$800 – Four Dam Dots

$1000 or more  – Five Dam Dots

To inspire others to give, it is hoped contributors will allow the Foundation to place their names and appropriate number of Dam Dots on a special page on this website.

Donations can be made through this website via credit card or by mailing a check made out to “Clark Lake Spirit Foundation”, PO Box 224, Clark Lake, MI 49234.

[The following option is now closed] A second option for giving is to purchase a Spirit Trail bench located around the dam.  Through a donation from M-R Builder’s Mike McKay, the area around the dam is being landscaped.  Those underwriting a bench will have the option of inscribing their name, family name, or using it to memorialize someone who held Clark Lake close to his or her heart.  So far, three of the four benches have been spoken for.  If you know someone who has an interest, please contact the Foundation soon.  The donation for each bench is at $3000, which is divided as follows.  One-thousand dollars pays for the bench and inscription.  Another $500 goes to the Spirit Trail fund.  The remaining $1500 becomes part of the Dam Strong Fund. 

A common question for this fundraiser is “what if the amount donated exceeds the cost of repairs?” At the time when the expected cost is met, it will be announced on this website.  Any overage will be invested safely in the Foundation’s general fund.  The Foundation is very conservative with expenditures, and funds are kept for real needs.  The Foundation has adapted the mission statement Standing Up for Clark Lake. Examples of expenditures include repair of the north side of the dam, launching weed control, refurbishing the cemetery, and maintaining this website. No Foundation officer or director is compensated.  

No one has been able to determine the origins of this dam or how long it has been in place.  From a structural point of view, it is under a great deal of stress.  Tree and brush roots have penetrated the ground around it and possibly have burrowed into it.  Water seeping in freezes and thaws through winters, creating the potential of fissures.

Below is an artist rendering of the top view of how the dam will look once the work is finished.

For further information, contact the Clark Lake Spirit Foundation–Rick Belcher, president, at 529-2121; or Ann Swain, treasurer, 529-9485. 



Weekend Ending Sunset

As lake activity quieted, the setting sun put on its show.  Once again Clark Lake was the recipient.  The first photo is from Bill Leutz who took it from a neighbor’s front lawn.

These other photos were taken later and at various positions on the lake.

Raft-O-Rama Look Back

The awards have been delivered, and the rafts have been shorn of their costumes.  Raft-O-Rama 2017 is now a memory, but a recent one that is still vivid.  Eighteen rafts took to the lake 10:30 am, Sunday, August 6th, and put on a show that won’t be forgotten.  The competition for “best” in each category was tough, illustrated by the highly creative and quality entries.  Here are all entries, many from aerial views not seen before.  Thanks to BJ Lyons for his expert drone photos.


The Raft-O-Rama “season” begins well before the parade.

For those viewing Raft-O-Rama who are only casually connected to the event, it is easy to miss the reality of how much goes into this event each year.  The R-O-R Committee meets throughout the year either to tie up loose ends from the previous year or to plan for the next one.   Not only is the parade on Raft-O-Rama Sunday a topic, but also fundraising projects and entertainment activities at the Point after the event.  Publicity includes banners on utility poles, posters, and the “Ten Things” direct mail piece. Then there is the luminary project–creating and offering them for sale around the lake so Clark Lake’s Independence Day evening starts with a soft glow along the shorelines. None of this gets done without lots of hard work and commitment.  Throughout this story are photos of what goes on at their meetings.

The committee meets in different places. The meeting above took place at the Point.  The one below occurred at the Community Center.

The Raft-O-Rama Committee understands where it is headed. As much as hard work is involved, the idea behind it is to create a good time for everyone at Clark Lake, summarized in one word–fun.

Fun is transmitted through Raft-O-Rama activities.  And it’s part of their meetings.  Some organizations begin their meetings solemlny.  For example, the Columbia Township board of trustees start with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer.  It’s not that Raft-O-Rama committee members aren’t patriotic or lack religious convictions.  They know there is a time for everything and they know their goal for their organization.  So, at each meeting, the meeting commences with a joke to put everyone in the right frame of mind. 


When you see a Raft-O-Rama committee member, you may wish to thank him or her.  The committee members will tell you there are lots of others to thank, as well.  Check out the list below.

Beerfest 2017

This August day started like September, but it warmed up–especially under the Beerfest tent.  Beerfest, held at Eagle Point, is a fundraiser for the Clark Lake Spirit Trail.  The price of admission allowed you to sample different brews.  Up to 120 different beers were available, and those attending appeared to enjoy checking them out.  The video starts with Beerfest Organizer Dan Omo and includes comments from Carl Evanson, a sponsor, and John Czyrka, who helped staff the event.

Two groups of people were under the tent at the Point–the pourers and those who came to enjoy the sampling process. 

Those who love the Clark Lake Spirit Trail benefit from events like Beerfest.  The Trail is a 7.3 mile path that allows cyclists, runners and walkers to follow the circumference of the lake.  Along the way, they travel through traditional lake neighborhoods, rural settings, canopied forest, and get views of Clark Lake’s waters. Maintaining the Trail primarily rests upon volunteers.  But there are infrastructure improvements that require financial investment.  Recent examples include the construction of an extension between Rita and Grand Boulevard at the east end and installing new surface and drainage along the post office at the west end.  The people in these slide shows, by attending or working the event, help get the job done.

Song writer and performer Ian Stewart entertained during the event.




Tonight’s Colors

Wednesday brought another stunning summer day for those at Clark Lake.  And the colors at sunset added a memorable glow.  Bill Leutz caught it in front his place along Eagle Point Road. And just a few doors to the south, here’s another look several minutes later.

Beerfest Happens Saturday!

Beerfest is almost here–it happens this Saturday, August 12, from noon to 4 pm, at Eagle Point. 

Beerfest is an opportunity to do some real taste testing.  There will be 60 beers on hand ready for sampling.   As you visit the pourers, enjoy the music.  Singer, songwriter and guitarist Ian Stewart will be on hand as the perfect accompanist as you check out the brews and trade stories with friends. Plan to attend now by clicking here.  Here some views from last year.

Those at Clark Lake know that the dam at Ocean Beach is at risk.  With catastrophic failure possible, lake level could decline two to four feet.  Imagine where that would put the new shoreline.  Available for purchase to support dam repairs are Dam Strong hats and Dam Strong t-shirts.  Be sure to shop these cool items and help keep Clark Lake’s water in the lake.

Beerfest is a fundraiser for the Clark Lake Spirit Trail.  This 7.3 mile path is available to runners, walkers and cyclists.  Those on the Trail experience a variety of scenes–the lake, wooded areas, and friendly neighborhoods. There is also a wide range of surfaces.  Without fundraisers and donations it would be impossible to keep this community gem in top condition.  Volunteers handle most chores, but major rebuilds, improvements and extensions require funding.

Beautifying Clark Lake

A Toledo church youth group visited Clark Lake on a mission, and their work helped beautify two Spirit Trail locations.  Eight 6th to 8th graders weeded and cleaned up the Township Park garden on Hyde Road and the plantings along the Trail at the County Park.  The group, from Collingwood Presbyterian Church in Toledo, stayed at the cottage of church member, Sue Seeger Wiemer.  Scott Bley, the youth group leader, helped direct the four boys and four girls with their tasks. 

Was there time for the kids to experience more of Clark Lake?  Yes.  Dan Omo took them for a raft ride and showed them around.  And now the kids can take home their memory of Clark Lake.

The breakwater had become completely overgrown. The group eliminated the weeds and cleaned up the bricks.

Peggy Collins Receives Spirit of Clark Lake Award

The Mary Reynolds Spirit of Clark Lake Award recognizes individuals or families who have contributed to the quality of life at Clark Lake.  This year the annual award went to Peggy Collins.  It can be said of Peggy that she has contributed greatly to life at the lake, and in a multitude of ways.  She has tirelessly volunteered her time to organizations such as the Spirit Trail and the Clark Lake Spirit Foundation.  She, and her family, have always made the Beach Bar available as a true center of the community.

The award was presented by Bill Bendele, who was last year’s recipient.  The announcement is traditionally made during post Raft-O-Rama ceremonies. 

The plaque is created each year by Mary Reynold’s daughter, Joey Reynolds Massangale.  According to Joey’s brother, Flip, their mother quietly found ways to make the lake a better place.  Clark Lake meant a lot to her.  Even in her last days, she continued to take part in the community, including Raft-O-Rama.  The award is decided upon by vote of the community with ballots available before Raft-O-Rama at local stores.

Other past winners include Peggy’s late husband, Tom, Bunty Adams, Louie & Michele Ambs, Bill Tuttle, Bev Avis, Loretto Baker, Don Fowler, R. Tucker Boyers, George Svinicki, Joanne Ambs, Ogden Adkins, John & Dotty Karkheck, Dick Cochran, Woody Newman, Ann Swain, Pat Dwyer, Jamie Mercer, Sam & Kathy Pease, Meredith Szostek, John Collins, and Evelyn Menard.

Raft-0-Rama 2017 Results

Skies were cloudy, but the rafts, and people on them, radiated pure sunshine.  Along with that sunshine shone lots of creativity as contestants met the challenge of this year’s theme–TV shows.  It’s amazing how much staying power certain shows retain.  Represented in the parade were three Gilligan Island’s, two Flintstones’, and two Mash’s.  Both the Addams Family and Lawrence Welk were on Clark Lake’s TV screen today as well.  All of these shows went into reruns long ago, but today is living proof of their indelible impact.  And their presentation today revived great memories.

Raft-O-Rama puts on display the creativity, artistry, and engineering capabilities of Clark Lake.  Turning an idea into something that will float successfully on two pontoons and weather a lake breeze is a mark of accomplishment.

The People’s Choice is voted upon by those who visit the R-O-R table starting at noon.  People’s Choice Award – #12 Baywatch

Best Overall, Adults 18+ – #12 Baywatch

Best Overall, Kids 17 and under, R. Tucker Boyers Award – #2 Flintstones


Most Enthusiastic – #11 Mash 4077

Most Original – #16 Addams Family

Funniest – #8 Cops

Closest to the Theme – #1 Lawrence Welk

Most Colorful – #18 Sesame Street

Best Special Effects – #7 Mash

Furthest from the Theme – #25 College Game Day

Rookie Award – #5 Gilligan’s Island

Best Costumes – #4 Gilligan’s Island

Best Attention to Details – #15 Baywatch

Other rafts added to the sights and sounds of the day.

  • #3 Price Is Right
  • #10 Naked and Afraid
  • #14 Flintstones
  • #17 Gilligan's Island
  • #9 Nickelodeon
  • #6 College Game Day

As you leave the story for the moment, take a look at what the Raft-O-Rama parade looks like from above.  The drone takes you around Eagle Point through the cove.  It makes a curiosity stop at the Baywatch raft, then resumes it flight.  Notice the line up of spectators on their rafts watching from the lake side of the parade as people on the shore watch from the other direction.

Thanks to BJ Lyons for the drone photos and videos.