Lake Gaston is having her 50th birthday, and many people are making a ‘Splash’ over it.

Area residents and businesses are preparing for the biggest birthday party ever, as 50 days of celebration begin to unfold.

O’Sail Founder and President Kathy Dikeman said this is the biggest thing she has ever been part of. O’Sail — the Organization to Support the Arts, Infrastructure and Learning on Lake Gaston — is acting as facilitator, and people from the lake have jumped in to build the events they want to host or hold.

“This is interesting because this isn’t one day, but 50 days from May 11 to June 23,” she said.

Any event, as long as its in good taste, can be part of the fun.

Those wanting to sponsor an event in the 50-day Splash extravaganza can log onto osail.org and fill out an application. Dikeman said this provides for all events to be listed in one place for the public to view. New events are coming in daily, and sometimes there are multiple events on the same day.

BEGINS

The fun gets started with the election of Lake Gaston’s “Honorary May-oar,” who will participate in most of the Splash events.

Campaign coordinator Dick Gleason said “Can-didates” received an empty paint can with a hole in the top for collecting “votes.”

There are currently seven candidates — Butch Garnett, Sherman Merchant, Becky Newton, Bill Goertemiller, Larry Williams, Nancy Grueneich and Jim Moye — campaigning around Lake Gaston trying to buy votes. Each dollar contributed counts as a vote.

“What other election can you find where you can vote three or four times?” Gleason joked. “We’re even inviting people to buy votes!”

Gleason said there will be a free public forum starting at 7 p.m. Monday at the Lake Gaston Lions Den on Stanley Road to meet the top five candidates.

At the forum, candidates have 15 minutes to convince, entertain or coerce the public for support.

“I think one is promising a fish on every line and things like that,” Gleason said.

After the forum, all campaign cans will be secured at the Lake Gaston ACE Hardware display through April 30.

Voting officially ends at 5 p.m. April 30. The winner will be announced at 7 p.m. at a press conference at the Lions Den. A brief reception follows the announcement.

The “May-oar” will be awarded an official garb to include things like a stove pipe hat and scepter.

“It will probably be a little oar,” Gleason said, adding the “May-oar” will have special parking at places around the lake during their reign. Money raised from the election helps fund other Splash events to raise money for local nonprofits.

Merchant’s slogan is “Vote for Sherm, he’s not a worm.”

His campaign promise is to have a fish on every grill, a smile on every face and a beer in your hand, unless you want a beer in each hand.

“Just step up and make your deposit,” Merchant said. “$1 per vote and vote as many times as you want.”

If “Can-didate” Becky Newton wins, she wants to make Lake Gaston its own sovereign state, and hydrilla will be developed as an alternative fuel source.

EVENTS

Splash events officially begin May 11 with the annual fly-in at the Halifax-Northampton Regional Airport. Proceeds benefit the Veteran’s Museum in Becker Village Mall.

Other events and happenings on the docket include a photo contest, the unveiling of a special edition wine from Rosemont of Virginia Vineyards & Winery, 1050 Blackridge Road in La Crosse, Va., a wildlife talk and a clean up day.

Lake Gaston Fitness will hold a 5K Fun Run May 25, and the Lake Gaston Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual Battle of the Barbecue.

Diane Sanders with South Shore Realty said her company is holding the Splash Classic Car Cruise-in, with an antique tractor and engine show starting 11 a.m. June 1 at the Realty, 1876 Eatons Ferry Road.

The Cruise-in and Show are free. Also, the public can dance and sing along with 1950s and 1960s karaoke with Shane Williams on the deck, and there will be food. Brunswick stew, barbecue sandwiches, beverages and desserts will be for sale to raise money for the Josh Curl Splash Scholarship Fund. Curl was tragically killed in a gun accident last year.

A cancellation stamp at local post offices will be available June 23.

There’s also a fishing tournament, a Splashtown water fun day, a 50-foot banana split, an art show and many other events surrounding this golden anniversary.

A complete list of events is available at osail.org in the Splash events calendar, which is updated often.

The finale June 22 includes the Lake Gaston Re-dedication Ceremony at The Pointe Restaurant. During the re-creation of the original ribbon cutting for Lake Gaston, the 50 Fabulous Aqua Babes (FABS) will go under the Eaton’s Ferry Bridge on Jet Skis in tandem.

The Lake Gaston Lions Club is also holding a Beach Music Festival; reigning BroStock champion and 2009 IWWF World Champion Wakeboarder Adam Fields is sponsoring a Big Air Fair wake board exhibition on the Southside of Lake Gaston; and more is planned. Area businesses are having sales that in some way involve the number 50.

Dikeman is not revealing the company but wants people to look for clear beach balls sometime during the Splash. They will have a special coupon inside that can be redeemed for savings or prize.

Wildwood Nursery & Garden Center is making Splash flower baskets and tubs using Splash colors — red, gold, purple and blue — for people to place on their docks.

Dikeman said there will also be Splash T-shirts, hats and other memorabilia.

Lake Gaston residents are asked to light their docks to celebrate and hang flags from their docks, homes and boats and, most importantly, come out to enjoy the events.

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