DANBURY -- Broken foam and wooden docks, bags of cans and plastic, even a mattress, were hauled to shore by volunteers in 30 boats cleaning Candlewood Lake Saturday morning.
The 13th cleanup in 14 years on the lake brought together residents from Brookfield, New Milford, New Fairfield, Danbury and Sherman, as well as groups as diverse as Troop 137 Boy Scouts, area high school students and members of the senior center in New Fairfield.
"We need to take care of our lake. It's beneficial that we can help out and get community service hours, too," 15-year-old Bethel High School sophomore Victoria Maceira said from a boat where she was collecting debris.
She was among 75 high school students from Project CLEAR, an education program that has about 125 high school students in Bethel, Brookfield, Danbury, New Fairfield, New Milford, and Sherman.
"Keeping the lake clean is part of Project CLEAR,'' said Abby Pelko, coordinator of the program, which is run by the area education support group Education Connection.
With the cloudless sky and sparkling water, about 200 volunteers working on land and from boats filled a 30-yard trash container during the three-hour cleanup.
Brookfield, New Milford, Sherman, and New Fairfield and Danbury share almost 90 miles of shoreline on Candlewood Lake, the largest lake in Connecticut and one of the largest man-made lakes in the United States.
"It's a kind of loaves-and-fishes story -- the stuff keeps showing up,'' said Larry Marsicano, director of the Candlewood Lake Authority, which organizes the cleanup. "It's really amazing. Everyone gets this. Everyone loves this lake and people see they can do this to make the lake a better place.''
The event is dedicated to Larry Marsicano's uncle, John Marsicano, one of the founders of the original cleanup, who died in 2004.
Marsicano said one volunteer fell off a boat and the Brookfield Fire Department responded. He said the person was checked out at the hospital as a precaution. The fire department declined to comment on the incident.
Chris Lener, 46, of Danbury, a marine biologist who teaches at Wooster School and lives near the lake, and her son, Joey, a 21-year-old senior at the University of Connecticut majoring in marine biology, were part of a clean-up crew working on the boat owned by Lisa and Randy Welp of New Fairfield.
"We love that this goes on,'' Lisa Welp said. "We kayak on the lake all the time, and we hate to see the garbage. Everyone who lives on the lake should be doing this."