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Lake Norman marks 50-year milestone looking back, ahead

MOORESVILLE Just as Lake Norman’s debut was commemorated with a blessing by United Methodist Bishop Nolan Harmon in 1959, the festival celebrating the lake’s 50th anniversary opened with another.

“This lake is a gift to us, our families and the generations to come,” intoned Claremont resident Terri Broome, who led the blessing in front of about 20 bowed heads at Queen’s Landing, a dining and entertaining complex on the water. “Please help us to be good stewards of what has been entrusted to our care.”

The blessing kicked off the festival Saturday afternoon, which Jill and Jim Feldmeyer decided to organize after learning about the lake’s milestone year. The couple started the Save Our Lake Organization in 2004.

“That 50-year thing, I think it’s a critical time for people – ‘Who am I, what am I, what’s my life?’ – and I think the same thing with Lake Norman, it’s been 50 years. Look at what we’ve done here, and what we need to do to make sure the lake is here for the next 50 years,” Jill Feldmeyer said.

While the rural land Lake Norman sits on was blessed in 1959, its official 50th anniversary is Sept. 30, 1963.

That’s the day when Duke Energy’s Cowans Ford Hydro Station off N.C. 73 in Huntersville began commercial operation, Tim Gause, Duke Energy’s district manager for the Charlotte region, recently told the Observer. Duke Energy declared the lake full in March 1963, according to Observer archives. (The Feldmeyers chose this weekend for the festival because they knew many families would be at the lake in June.)

At the Queen’s Landing festival in Mooresville, people staffing a dozen tents from different local organizations such as the Lake Norman Wildlife Conservationists and the Lake Norman Marine Commission were there to offer information about how to safely enjoy the lake and keep it beautiful.

Children won prizes at booths, and the local Christian band, The Gospelaires, sang on a stage under sunny skies. The “Live Blues” group was scheduled for the evening.

Lake Norman is more than a fun summer pastime for Greg Gabriel.

“It means everything,” said Gabriel, who was born and raised in the Lake Norman area and lives in Sherrills Ford. Gabriel, 52, said his father used to farm on land that’s now underwater but added that the lake has given the area a better economy and growth.

Many others at the festival were transplants from the north – and they love the lake as well.

“We come from snow, so this is nice,” said Linda Jock, who reclined in a lawn chair near the Gospelaires with her husband, Keith. The couple moved to Huntersville from New York almost 10 years ago.

They said they love living near Lake Norman and can’t believe its size. (It has 520 miles of shoreline.) “It’s amazing how spread out it is,” Linda said.

Jane DuBois and her family went to the festival Saturday as well. They moved to Sherrills Ford a year ago from Charlotte to be closer to the lake, and she said the move was well worth it.

“We love living at Lake Norman,” she said. “It has good people, and the lake is clean. ... It’s beautiful out here.”

Staff writer Joe Marusak contributed.

Ruebens: 704-358-5294; Twitter: @lruebens
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