Caroga group promoting events, growth

CAROGA – A group of town businesses and residents has been working to increase tourism in the Caroga area and promote local businesses and community growth.

The Caroga Lake Chamber of Commerce, formerly known as the Adirondack Lakers Association, recently was established. It plans to create new events and promote activities sponsored by other town organizations.

Caroga Lake offers four-season recreational opportunities.

Among the offerings is an easy hike up Kane Mountain, which is home to one of the few open fire towers in New York state. The area also offers skiing and dirt-bike racing at Royal Mountain. The five lakes in Caroga Lake offer fishing, boating, canoeing and kayaking opportunities. The area also offers golfing and camping.

The Caroga Lake Chamber of Commerce encourages any family to rediscover Caroga Lake, relive memories and create new ones, chamber President Greta Frasier said.

Fraiser said the Adirondack Lakers Association started meeting last October and eventually developed into the new chamber in late May.

She said the group recently filed papers with the state to become the Caroga Lake Chamber of Commerce.

“We are trying to plan events to try and encourage people to come back to Caroga,” Treasurer Carol Ziemann said. “It has been fairly quiet up here, a lot of tourism from the past is long gone, and we would like to bring back some events that will draw people and raise funds for other events.”

The chamber doesn’t have a permanent location but holds regular monthly meetings at the Caroga Town Hall.

Ziemann said the new Caroga chamber was created to focus on revitalizing the Caroga community and increase tourism in the area during any of the four seasons.

Town Supervisor Ralph Ottuso said the community and businesses got together to improve the community, and participation at each event has increased.

“Thankfully, the Abdellas allow us to use the old Sherman’s for the events we are having, which makes it work out real well,” Ottuso said. “They have been instrumental, but basically what we are trying to do is by creating a lot of activity in the town, it will get people to realize that there are areas in the town to invest in. It is a build-it-and- they-will-come type of thing.”

George Abdella and his family own the Sherman’s Amusement Park, which is not operating as an amusement park at this time. He said he is happy to help by providing the property at Sherman’s, which his family has attempted to bring back to the way it once was.

“The carousel has been up and running, but we closed a few years ago and we have repaired the building to make it beautiful again,” Abdella said.

He said the new chamber is an enthusiastic group of people, and he allows them to use the facility at no charge. Abdella also said he is happy to see the fireworks return to Sherman’s for the first time in about five years.

The Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce is in charge of handling tourism for the county, but Ziemann said this is more focused to only Caroga Lake and bringing the community back to life.

President of the county chamber, Mark Kilmer, said he believes the new chamber in Caroga will be a “great nucleus” for putting on events and being supportive of town activities. He said it isn’t uncommon for the larger regional chambers to have smaller chambers within them, and his chamber already has the St. Johnsville and Canajoharie Chambers of Commerce, which he said have had success.

“It’s a very symbiotic relationship with the regional chambers because we work hand in hand to improve their town,” Kilmer said. “I think it is the right step forward, and hopefully, they are successful, and this will help them develop their plans a little bit better.”

Kilmer said the new chamber will be a good partner for future events and beautification of the area.

On July 13, the Caroga Lake Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a Fun Day & Block Party at Sherman’s Park.

The block-party event begins at 11 a.m. and includes carousel rides, carnival games, bounce houses, live music by Saving Atlantis at 5 p.m., food vendors and fireworks, which will take place at 9:45 p.m.

Also on July 13, the Caroga Historical Society will host its upcoming event, which is a Civil War Re-enactment & Ice Cream Social at the Caroga Lake Museum.

“It should be a real nice day of events,” Ottuso said.

Some of the other annual events the Caroga Lake Chamber has had great success with is the annual polar plunge on New Year’s Day.

In February, winter sports fans enjoyed the Outhouse Races and Car Races on West Caroga.

Most recently, the chamber celebrated the reopening of the historic carousel at Sherman’s Park at the annual flower sale, craft show and barbecue that served as a fireworks fundraiser on May 25 and raised $3,000 for the chamber to bring fireworks back to Caroga Lake.

On Father’s Day, the chamber also had a successful return of a Caroga Lake fishing tournament.

Fraiser said the chamber is working on more upcoming events, which include planning for winter activities.

She encouraged those interested to attend events and like them on its Facebook page: Adirondack Lakers Association/Caroga Lake Chamber of Commerce, where all their activities are listed.

The chamber regularly meets on the second Monday of every month at the Caroga Town Hall at 7 p.m.