A rowboat in an eastern part of Lake George was taking on water Monday afternoon and slowly going under. The handful of bikini-clad women who were dancing aboard didn’t make any move to stop the sinking and instead doubled down on their rhythmic gyrations until their boat was swallowed by 3-foot-deep water.
It was Log Bay Day, the holiday founded by locals and for locals and held in a portion of the lake most people can reach only by boat.
Log Bay Day was also a lot of beer drinking, women on men’s shoulders chicken fighting to the delight of a small mob, suntanning on a speedboat, smoking marijuana out of a floating noodle, listening to music blasting from a boat, a woman vomiting into the water, coolers floating in the lake, an active beer pong table anchored in thigh-deep water and lots of women dancing.
Lake George’s biggest annual party, which occurs on the last Monday of July in the lake’s Log Bay, was held on schedule and with beautiful warm weather that attracted at least 100 boats and a few thousand people throughout the day. About 40 feet from the shore, boats dropped anchor for the day and most people descended into the water for fun in the sun, which included tossing a ball around, tossing back a beer or simply letting the light waves toss them among the throng of mostly young partygoers. Loud music washed over everything, with a perpetual buzz generated by the laughter and yells of the crowd mixed in.
Standing on the Log Bay shore, about two miles from their campground, John Donahue and two relatives took in the sights and contemplated how this locally created holiday has changed. The trio watched the debauchery and odd antics they were safely removed from.
“It wasn’t quite as crazy back then,” Donahue said, remembering back about 15 years to the flat barge in the water that hosted music being played by locals. “The whole thing was initially for the guys on the lake who worked, but it has turned into this.”
The party might not be the local secret anymore, with people coming from all over the Capital Region and even New York City, but it still attracts a lot of people who either live or work in the area.
Justine Murnane, 24, has spent many summers vacationing in Bolton Landing and has known about the holiday since before she could legally drink. She and a group of friends dubbed “The Clam Jam” had come together this time because it is a tradition. They had arrived on a boat, like a vast majority of people, to avoid the trek off of Shelving Rock Road, which was a seven-minute walk for those with the closest parking and much longer for people who arrived later in the afternoon.
“It’s everybody you know. It’s a lot of wet fun,” Murnane said. “It’s a party.”
One of the changes she has witnessed is the way law enforcement approaches the event. Although not sanctioned by state or local officials, this year’s event was regulated by state, county and local authorities, who were well prepared to handle any crisis that emerged and potentially prevent some from happening.
Officers on boats inspected incoming boats and officers on personal watercraft patrolled the area once the boats stopped and responded to any emergencies. On land, the biggest concentration of police was on Shelving Rock Road, where people had their IDs checked and sobriety called into question. Officers also were located on trails and along the shores, repeating ID checks and watching the water.
Echoing a general sentiment, Murnane said the police presence wasn’t intrusive to the party at all. “We’re being safe and they’re being nice,” she said.
The day wasn’t without incident, though, with at least one ticket issued for marijuana possession and one intoxicated woman suffering minor injuries when she fell in the nearby waterfall. Heading into the evening, Lake George Park Commission Executive Director David Wick said the day was “pleasantly uneventful.”
Heather Tomaski, 23, of Glens Falls, who works at the lake and was with a group of other lake workers, felt like the party hadn’t matched the hype. Liam Faudree, 24, who also works on the lake, assured her that at night it would be even crazier. Their group, which pushed an inner tube that held a cooler of beer, all felt like the party was a great way for people working in the community’s tourist industry to blow off steam.
Faudree added that the party is “Better than Christmas,” referring to the party’s familiar tagline that it is “Christmas in July.”
The party is not without a few logistical problems, most notably being the lack of convenient bathroom facilities. A handful of rustic accommodations are scattered around the bay, but most people settled on relieving themselves in the water. “I haven’t seen a lot of people leave the water,” a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation forest ranger remarked about the bathroom habits.