Independence Day on the lake: Visitors flood South Shore for holiday recreation, fireworks display
When Oakley Olson, 56, wedged his boat into a small spot at one of South Lake Tahoe’s hot spots Sunday, it became hard to imagine that this summer holiday known for family gatherings was predicted to be slower than usual last week.
He’d been coming to the lake since age 18 and noticed the bustling traffic this weekend.
Perhaps the crowd scene was relative. Perhaps it’s long-awaited – with the National Weather Service reporting summer finally arriving in Tahoe. The lake’s highs in the mid-80s measured 2 to 3 degrees above normal, but 5 to 6 below the record.
“We thought it would be colder,” said Jennifer Olson, who hopped off the Olson MacGregor cruiser to go on the water for the night. They planned to spend the Fourth of July on the lake and see the fireworks from there.
“There’s nothing better,” she said.
“You feel like you’re right underneath them,” the Glen Ellen man said, boasting of being close enough to get fireworks debris in his boat. “And I can get back faster than the cars on the road.”
Matching the highways lined with motorists Sunday, boat trailers were parked from the Tahoe Keys Marina to Keys Boulevard to Texas Avenue.
Unlike the veteran Olson party, Todd Wang of San Francisco steered a group of eight fellow riders down Tahoe Keys Boulevard.
“We don’t usually come in the summer, but we thought we’d try it. We wanted to get into the outdoors and relax a little bit,” he said, pointing to the bike map at Venice and Tahoe Keys boulevards.
At midtown, a huge crowd blanketed El Dorado Beach at the shoreline and on the greenbelt as if the fireworks were planned that night. The South Lake Tahoe area’s population of 26,000 has swelled to more than 100,000 on summer weekends such as this.
The simulcast display launched off a barge – boasted as the largest west of the Mississippi River – is scheduled for 9:45 tonight. Places to view them are as far ranging as the shapes, sizes and colors. They include: D.L. Bliss State Park, Baldwin, Kiva, Pope, El Dorado, Regan and Nevada beaches, Camp Richardson, Timber Cove, Round Hill Pines and Zephyr Cove. Through the years, enthusiasts have been known to climb Mount Tallac or take the Heavenly Gondola up to the observation deck on years it’s open.
They say people will go to great lengths to partake in the Tahoe lifestyle.
Over Fourth of July 2002, even the 673-acre Gondola fire – which sent shivers through the spine of the community – failed to keep the Tahoe Douglas Visitors Authority-sponsored show from going on.
Marinas, retailers, campgrounds, lodging establishments and restaurants experience a considerable bump in business over the summer holiday weekend. In particular, Harrah’s Lake Tahoe beefs up menu items for its restaurants on both sides of Highway 50. As a sampling that tells a story of consumption, purchasing ordered 3,638 pounds of prime rib, 31,180 slices of bacon, 1,350 English muffins, 13,812 eggs and 5,400 pounds of french fries for the weekend.
Happy Independence Day
All federal, state, county and city offices will be closed today. These include the El Dorado County Public Library at South Lake Tahoe, U.S. Post Offices, South Lake Tahoe city administration, El Dorado and Douglas County administrative offices.
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