February 10, 2016
THE CARS WENT DOWN! LAKE PREVAILED!
On Saturday, the 6th of February in the year of Our Lord 2016, an assortment of Lake Geneva Winterfest vehicles went to the bottom because of ill chosen parking.
The story, that has gone international via the many different media formats, was all about how a bunch of people showed up in Lake Geneva, saw others parking out on the lake ice and decided the closeness, the convenience and the free price merited risking the vagaries everyone knows exists in using ice as any kind of support structure. Fifteen tons of automobiles crowded together parked for convenience and against outside threat.
They parked off shore of where the great National Snow Sculpting Festival, called Winterfest, takes place along Wrigley Drive, just up from the edge of the lake itself. The walk from this convenient parking wasn’t even much of a stroll. Most metered legal spaces were all taken, on arguably the busiest day in Lake Geneva’s history. Lines at the park and ride were half an hour long. The local Lake Geneva Police Officers were on hand and nearby to advise visitors not to park on the ice, or if they did, to park very close in to the shore. The temperature was forty-six that day. The police did not report that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources does not allow local lake-abutting communities to restrict lake access. Ice fisherman lobbied for open access to the lake, which local police have tried to resist for years.
That eighteen cars ever so slowly sank up to their window ledges, and some deeper, with no threat to bodily harm somehow became every television channel’s greatest story of the week. An underlying humor that played out all across social media (the Geneva Shore Report had its highest three-day visitation occurrence in history) was that the people who parked their cars out on the ice were stupid and got what they deserved. A second element of dark humor was about the fact that most of the cars had license plates issued in Illinois. To the people who lost their cars there was nothing funny at all about what happened. They lost a major investment, most covered by comprehensive insurance required by banks and financial houses, and they were charged towing and possibly rescue and pollution fines on top of that.
Ten of the cars were totaled. Some of the cars were Cadillacs, BMWs and Volvos. There were no instructions given by the police or anyone else that recommended that these people park out on the ice and the inducement of convenience and other people doing it tipped the scales (so to speak) in helping people decide to do something that would later prove to be rather obviously ignorant. Auto insurance should cover most of the damage people suffered (since insurance is there to actually step in when the mind of the insured may be rather disengaged) but, no matter what, these well-meaning citizens and visitors didn’t need to spend their Winterfest in such agony.
The Lake Geneva City Council was alerted to the problem at its Monday night meeting but the right to drive a vehicle out on frozen water across Wisconsin lakes isn’t about to be set aside overnight, if ever. Larry’s Towing did a great job in getting all the cars out of the lake by noon on Sunday. The Lake Geneva Police were all over the place and did a splendid job. The Lake Geneva Fire Department did what it usually is known to do; serve quietly, effectively and with rapid analytical response and polite friendly “bedside manners.”
To all Lake Geneva’s residents and visitors, the Geneva Shore Report wishes many happy days and nights around the gorgeous lake in winter but the entire GSR staff recommends against going out on that ice, when there is ice, in any large heavy vehicle.