The Deep Creek Lake Lions Club has been serving our community since 1972. An affiliate of Lions Club International, the largest service club organization in the world with 1.4 million members globally, this local chapter of the Lions is well-known for its sponsorship and funding of two major programs of work: The Blind Skier / Camper program and most recently, the Lions Club Community Park. They are also well-known for bringing some of the most entertaining fund-raisers to the lake each summer.
At the 1925 International Convention of Lions, Helen Keller challenged the collected delegates to become “Knights of the Blind” and “to make the lives of the blind more worthwhile everywhere by . . . giving them the joy of normal activity.” For a few weeks each year for over three decades, the Deep Creek Lake Lions have done just that by bringing blind children to the Deep Creek Lake area to enjoy activities that most fully-sighted visitors and residents take for granted.
In the winter, the students ski at the Wisp with the assistance of special equipment and local high school and adult volunteers. They also enjoy hearty breakfasts prepared by the Lions Club and pizza dinners where they trade stories from the slopes with the club members and each other. The club has been holding this program for almost 50 years and estimates that hundreds of visually impaired children have experience the fun and confidence building of downhill skiing.
During the summer, the club sets up tents for the students at the Club’s park on Bumble Bee Rd, and then provide the kids with the opportunities to go tubing and fishing on the lake and roasting marshmallows by the fire at night. Local attractions also donate their facilities to allow the students to experience the fun of the mountain coaster, bumper cars and go-carts.
In addition to these enriching programs, the club members also offer assistance to local residents in need for vision and hearing related medical expenses through the Garrett County Health Department. The club also donates to other local and global causes that align with its core mission areas of vision improvement, hunger abatement and youth development.
To raise funds for these service activities, the DCL Lions host several fund-raisers throughout the summer. The most popular is their annual Boat Parade, held July 3rd on Deep Creek Lake. At 7 PM, a line of decorated boats will travel along the shores of Deep Creek Lake from the McHenry Cove past several judging stations and ending at Dutch’s at Silver Tree at approximately 8:30. As they pass by, a separate boat will cruise by taking your votes (donations) for the best decorated boat. Official judging stations will be located at various spots and establishments along the lake shore. Business owners are welcome to participate or donate prizes. Boat owners can pre-collect donations as well and all proceeds benefit the Blind Skier and Camper programs. At dusk, the lighted boats will parade back to McHenry Cove.
If you are feeling lucky, you can enter the DCL Lions Poker Cruise to be held on Sunday August 15th from Noon-3pm. Participants will register at Dutch’s at Silver Tree between noon and 1pm, and then stop at various lake establishments, where you’ll collect cards at each spot. Upon returning back to Dutch’s, you’ll get a final card. At the end, you’ll play the cards and the best poker hands win prizes! The entry fee is $50 per and gets you a goody bag. Passengers can contribute an additional $20 to play their own hand.
Perhaps one of the most anticipated fund-raising events is their annual boat auction where club members auction off donated boats and other recreational vehicles. This year the event will take place on June 12 at 9 AM at the Lions Club Community Park. Last year, sixty bidders from five states bid on over thirty boats.
If you are in the market for a new boat or simply are ready to let go of your old one, you can donate to the Deep Creek Lake Lion’s Club. They will haul it away and you get the boat’s auction value as a deduction on your taxes AND you’ll be helping to support our Blind Skier and Camper Programs here at Deep Creek Lake. They accept donations of all types as well as ATV’s, snowmachines and any other recreational vehicles you may have sitting around. They will make sure you get the maximum deduction on your taxes for your donation.
If interested in donating, contact Chris Nichols at 323.325.5466 or email DCLLIONS@gmail.com. You can see photos of donated boats and auction rules on the DCL Lions Club website at deepcreeklions.org or on their Facebook page.
Their latest endeavor is managing one of the few community parks in the area, located at 1249 Bumble Bee Road (next to the HART for Animals Adoption Center) and just 1.5 miles from Deep Creek Lake. A true community park, it has many features and is free to the public and has truly been a collaborative effort of Lions Club members, county government, and individual donors. It contains an off-leash dog run, covered picnic pavilion, hiking trails, art installations and historical markers commemorating the life of one of Garrett County’s first settlers, Meshach Browning. At the picnic pavilion, the club also hosts a “Free Little Pantry” and “Free Little Library” where people can deposit and withdraw food and books. The Pantry in particular has been a frequently used resource for those in need when other free food sources are unavailable.
The newly upgraded Garrett College softball field anchors the property and is available for community use by reservation. The 40,000 square foot off-lease dog park includes a double-door entry system, waste disposal, and separate fenced areas for small and large dogs. It is open dawn to dusk year-round and is free to use, although donations are gladly accepted at a drop box on site or via Paypal. The park also features a doggie “wash” station.
The park is adjacent to over 100 acres of undeveloped land owned by Garrett County. The Commissioners have agreed to let the Club develop a non-motorized multi-use (hiking, biking, dog walking, skiing/snowshoeing) trail system on this property.
The trail system features six interconnecting trails from a half mile to three and a half miles long. They are themed around famous Garrett County hunter and settler, Meshach Browning – at the trailhead there is an interpretative display information about his life and times as well as places to find more information about the history of the county.
You can see a detailed look at the trail map at their website or pick up a printed map at the trailhead. There are currently plans underway to put in a wheelchair accessible paved trail around the perimeter of the park. Three quarters of a mile in length it will not only be accessible to all, but will be a perfect way for parents or grandparents to walk while keeping an eye on their children at play.
The park also features a bathhouse (open April – October), a children’s play area and open space, as well as a covered Picnic Pavilion with electricity which is available for use by community members or can be reserved for a special occasion.
One of the most unique features of the park is a life-size, chainsaw-carved statue of the famous hunter created by Jessica Spiker of Jessie Lee Chainsaw Arts and dedicated in 2019. There are also a series of reclaimed metal statues created by Josh Sines as well as three different tactile art installations made by former Blind Ski and Camp participants.
The newest entry is a community art project consisting of plaques painted by community members that have been assembled into a larger mosaic. The panels are 3D printed relief portraits of Browning and his dogs with a spot for you to sign your name so you’ll be able to identify your contribution.
Organizers are just getting started with plans for the park. They hope that future elements will include shower facilities, an expanded pavilion, a new paved multi-use path, disc golf course, reconstructed pioneer-era log cabin, soccer field, covered basketball court, dog park lighting and expansion, playground, climbing boulder and increased cleared and leveled open space.
Currently, club and community members are fund-raising for a bicycle “Pump Track” for the property. Consisting of rollers, banked turns and features designed to be ridden completely by riders’ pumping – generating momentum by up and down body movements, instead of pedaling or pushing. Pump tracks are great for riders of all skill levels and abilities and provide a safe space for socializing and recreation. They often create a base for other projects which grow into multiple projects that benefit the community.
The Club proposes to utilize an area of around 200 by 200 feet for a professionally designed and built paved track with multiple “skill lines” and routes. The area will be defined by a rail-type fence and a delineated entry area with signage and covered area for seating and bike racks. A group of both residents and visitors have stood up a “Friends of the Pump Track” organization to hold fundraising and awareness events, including a Bike Rodeo planned for June 26. An online crowdfunding campaign has already raised over 20% of its goal.
The Bike Rodeo will take place at the park and will include a scavenger hunt, arts & crafts, prizes, live music, food and drinks. Be sure to bring your bike and helmet and you can learn about bike safety, practice your skills on the obstacle course and meet the Garrett County Coyotes Mountain Bike Team. You can donate online at https://gofundme/3966N234.
The final event of the summer will be the Meshach Browning Pioneer Challenge to be held on Saturday, August 28 from Noon to 4 PM, also at the Lions Club Park. In this event, teams of around 2 to 5 people will compete in a variety of challenges that test their pioneer-era survival skills like fire-starting, water-carrying, ax-throwing and log-sawing! The teams will rotate through each of the challenges set up around the event venue with their scores recorded at each and tallied at the end to determine the winner. Entry fee is $15 per person through July 31st, then $25 afterwards.
This event is not only a fund-raiser for the Club, but also a way to raise awareness of the History Center and Garrett County’s rich heritage. Business sponsors, vendors, and pioneer era demonstrators are also welcome. Contact them for more information on any of these opportunities!
The Deep Creek Lake Lions Club is a thriving and important institution in our community. The Club meets the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month at various restaurants in the area and at their park during the summer. Visitors are always welcome! A membership form is available on their website at www.deepcreeklions.org or contact them at 323-DCL-LION (325-5466) or via email at DCLLIONS@gmail.com.