The lives of Wellington residents — as well as people all around the world — have been restricted and adversely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The global virus-driven restrictions have had negative ramifications — financially, physically, mentally and emotionally.
To cope with the downsides of the lockdown, people have resorted to watching more television, reading more books, doing more gardening, baking and engaging in more exercise. But some local residents are spending more time on Lake Wellington as a way to mentally cope with the lockdown.
For that very reason, Lake Wellington may well be the best-kept secret and coping mechanism in the community.
The appeal, allure and attraction of lakefront living in the heart of Wellington is one of the main reasons why many people choose to live in this community. While Wellington is well known for its many parks, ball fields, green space, horse trails and spacious sidewalks, which are appealing to walkers, runners, skaters, riders and bicyclists, one of the most underutilized recreational options in Wellington is its aquatic centerpiece — Lake Wellington. And the fact that there’s free and easy access to the lake should make it even more enticing.
Yet many people don’t use it, think about it or even know about it. But, then again, there are also many Wellington residents who can’t imagine life without access to this man-made body of water that is actually bigger and wider than most people realize, until they are in the middle of the lake in a pontoon boat, sailboat, kayak, rowing skull or paddle board.
One of the appealing aspects of Lake Wellington is that gasoline-powered engines are not allowed on the water — only battery-powered motors and, of course, human-powered boats.
Wellington residents who live in the area consider access to Lake Wellington as an extension of their back patio and an integral part of their daily lives, 12 months a year. And when everybody is in their own boat, it’s easy to practice social distancing.
“It’s very calm and peaceful on the lake,” said longtime resident Joetta Palumbo, who grew up in West Virginia. “There’s nothing like morning coffee on the lake during the weekends, and I’ve always loved the sun. This is the life. It’s good, clean fun. Boats bring me so much joy.”
For others, Lake Wellington is a haven of tranquility and a safe refuge, a necessity during the pandemic.
“It’s so peaceful on the lake, and I enjoy meeting up with friends while out on the water,” said Jennifer Davis, a native of Long Island.
“It’s our happy place,” agreed Alicia Maggio, who grew up living along New York’s Hudson River.
“It’s so relaxing to be on Lake Wellington,” added Pam Pazzaglia, whose childhood home was Buffalo, N.Y.
On many occasions, usually in the early evening, Palumbo, Davis, Maggio and Pazzaglia will cruise around the lake in a convoy while sharing thoughts on their lives or their days at work.
In fact, earlier this summer, the four of them decided to mix time on the lake with a meal. They actually had a cookout in the middle of the lake on two of their boats, which were tied to one another and then anchored. A good time was had by all.
“We had hot dogs, shrimp, coleslaw, potato salad, potato chips and all the fixin’s for the hot dogs,” Palumbo said. “We had a few drinks, too.”
Fellow Wellington resident Myrna Delguercio spends her time on the water while navigating a kayak, which allows her to reap mental and physical dividends. When she paddles her kayak, she gets exercise and some much-needed peace of mind, which have helped her manage the mental and emotional hurdles that have impacted her life during the age of the pandemic.
“Kayaking is relaxing. It eliminates stress and allows me to get away from it all,” Delguercio said.
Gary Swedenborg owns and operates one of the bigger pontoon boats on the lake. He’s a regular on Lake Wellington and has been for the last 15 years. He didn’t let the lockdown negatively impact his boating time on the lake.
“I try to get out on the lake about three or four times a week,” said Swedenborg, who also enjoys spotting wildlife on the lake. “I see Muscovy ducks, otters, bald eagles, ospreys and blue herons. I also see squirrels along the banks.”
When he’s in the mood, Swedenborg will grab his fishing pole and attempt to catch and release any of the fish that live in the lake, such as bass, oscar, carp and clown knifefish.
Swedenborg also likes the economic benefits of boating on Lake Wellington.
“At the end of every trip, you don’t have to fill up, just plug in,” he explained.
Having access to an aquatic way of life along Lake Wellington may be one of the village’s best-kept secrets and has emerged as a great way to cope with the negative ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic.