Yesterday saw a steady stream of traffic flowing into Lake George Village as the combination of sunny skies, a long holiday weekend and the promise of a spectacular fireworks display attracted visitors from all over the Northeast. Throngs of shoppers filled the broad sidewalks along Canada Street; hundreds more staked out spots in Shepard and Blais Parks, spread out blankets on the beaches and set up camp chairs along the walkway that hugs the lake’s shore.
Area hotels and motels sported “no vacancy signs,” and the open-air decks of Village restaurants were packed with diners. Parking lots were filled hours before the fireworks were scheduled to begin, but the Village appeared well prepared for the Fourth of July influx. There seemed to be no difficulties with incoming traffic or with accommodating the thousands of visitors’ rest room needs.
The Jonathan Newell Band, a local favorite, took the stage in Shepard Park at 7 p.m. The mood was festive as the band covered favorites from Bon Jovi, Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, the Beatles and others. The audience sang along and many got up to dance. As darkness fell over the lake, dozens of boats filled the South Basin and the crowds migrated from the streets the lake’s edge. The fireworks show, a spectacular display of pyrotechnics shot from barges on the lake, launched at 9:30 and the chant “USA, USA” rose from the crowd.
In the past, exiting the Village after the Fourth of July fireworks had been a frustrating affair. The streets would lock with traffic that failed to move, often for two or more hours. It was not unusual to see traffic still backed up well past midnight following a 9:30 p.m. show. Not only was this aggravating for drivers, it was unsafe as emergency vehicles were unable to navigate the streets.
To alleviate the gridlock this year, the Village executed a traffic plan to keep the exodus moving along Canada and Ottawa Streets. Village Peace Officers and DPW employees manned barricades, diverting traffic from the residential streets west of Ottawa away from Canada Street. Drivers were directed to exit the Village south by way of Sewell Street, or north by way of Mountain Avenue. Warren County Sherriff deputies directed traffic on Canada Street. Traffic last night did come to a standstill on streets feeding into the main roads, but the congestion began to clear by 11:30 p.m.