Ever since I can remember, my family has taken part in a long standing tradition on the Great Sacandaga Lake in New York called the “Ring of Fire”. This tradition has now become my favorite “event” or should I say, weekend, of the year marking the unofficial end of summer.
Every year on the Sunday night before Labor Day, the entire Great Sacandaga Lake is lit up at dusk by bonfires completely surrounding the shores. The permanent and summer home residents of the “GSL” build bonfires some small or some as big as 20 feet tall. From the middle of the lake you can clearly point out people you know in the dark because the fires burn so bright. It’s pretty d*mn amazing to see.
But the weekend is much more than just the burning of a gigantic bonfire. It’s a weekend of community. A weekend of fun. A weekend filled with smiles and laughter. A weekend of family. It’s a weekend that once you experience you won’t want to miss again.
I have a lot of memories at my lake house on the Great Sacandaga Lake but my best memories are from the Ring of Fire weekend. Not only is my whole immediate family up there but there’s extended family, our friends, my parents’ friends, my cousins’ friends and it goes on. Our property becomes consumed with a lasting energy.
During the day leading up to the lighting of the bonfire, there is so much food it is impossible to be left hungry. There are intense games of wiffle-ball and pool volleyball. While my brother and his friends put the finishing touches on the bonfire, the rest of us enjoy a nice and refreshing mojito while playing polish horseshoes or sunbathing and watching the many boats go by. When I was younger as the fires were burning all of the kids would play man hunt across my property and down the street and the highlight of our day was when my Dad would take us tubing behind the boat.
When it’s time for the fire to be ignited, all of us journey down to the beach where a massive bonfire filled with pallets and tree limbs lay. Covered by our sweatshirts and blankets, my family, friends, and even some of those who live on our street make the trek down to the water to watch the sky light up around the lake. Within minutes our fire dwindles down and we head back up to our camp where we build a smaller fire and roast s’mores.
When the bonfire is lit, it isn’t just the blaze of the fire that warms us up. It’s the love and community that spreads through out the entire lake. Local restaurants send off fireworks and let hundreds gather on their property for those who don’t have a camp. You can hear the laughter, the ou’s and ah’s , and sense the happiness for miles.
On Monday morning you can smell the remnants from the fires. Camps are closing down, some boats are being taken out, and people say goodbye until next year. A calmness takes over the waters and vibrates the sadness of not only the weekend ending but the unofficial ending of summer.
This tradition has been apart of my life for as long as I can remember but I think speak for everyone who has taken part in the Ring of Fire when I say it is truly one of the best weekends to experience on the Great Sacandaga Lake.
The Ring of Fire has given me some of the best memories of my life. I’m so grateful and fortunate to be able to take part in this tradition but also blessed to be a part of the Great Sacandaga Lake community.