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Mark your calendars for these Lake Murray events this season

Patriotically decorated boats of all shapes and sizes line up at Bomb Island for the start of the boat parade on Lake Murray. This year’s parade will be at noon on June 29.
Patriotically decorated boats of all shapes and sizes line up at Bomb Island for the start of the boat parade on Lake Murray. This year’s parade will be at noon on June 29. File

As the temperatures get warmer and summer approaches, Lake Murray lures Columbians with its cool(ish) water and all the fun that it can provide. And many businesses and organizations capitalize on Lake Murray’s appeal by hosting events on the 50,000-acre water playground.

You can enjoy Lake Murray every day, regardless of whether you have a boat or a lakefront house. Folks can enjoy sunsets over the lake at one of the public parks by the dam or take in views often captured in pictures while walking over the dam. Businesses rent boats, restaurants offer lakeside dining and drinking, and Dreher Island State Park has hiking and camping.

Throughout the spring and summer, events also give folks an excuse to enjoy some lake time. Here are some of those events:

DEMO DAY

When: 1-5 p.m. April 28.

Where: Dreher Island State Park, 3677 State Park Road, Prosperity.

Why: If you’ve ever wanted to try out the latest in paddle sports gear, this is your chance to test kayaks, canoes and standup paddleboards. Pay $2 to get into the park, then the demo event is free and includes lunch.

Info: www.southcarolinaparks.com/dreherisland.

LAKE MURRAY SPRINT TRIATHLON

When: 8 a.m. May 25.

Where: Dreher Island State Park, 3677 State Park Road, Prosperity.

Why: Dreher Island State Park is a scenic place to get some exercise. The swim is one counter-clockwise 750-meter loop; the bike course is a 16-mile loop; and the 5K run is a one-loop course with several out and back spurs, and is relatively flat and shaded.

Info: www.trisignup.com/Race/SC/Prosperity/LakeMurraySprintTriathlon

DRIFT JAM

When: Music starts at noon June 1.

Where: Spence Island.

Why: Boats will tie up for this annual music event, which organizers call “the world’s largest floating music festival.” Proceeds from the free event benefit the 9/11 Remembrance Foundation of SC.

Info: www.driftjam.com.

WEEKEND WITH THE PROS

When: June 14-15

Why: Pro wakeboarders will give exhibitions and lessons and in years past, this has been a really cool event. This year, the pros are Chad Sharpe and Dallas Friday. They will give wakeboarding lessons (available for all ages and skill levels) and exhibitions on Lake Murray during this two-day event, which also includes an In-Water Boat Show at Captain’s Choice Marine in Leesville.

Info: scroughriders.com/wwtp.

JULY FOURTH FIREWORKS AND BOAT PARADE

When: June 29. Boat parade at noon; fireworks at 9:15 p.m.

Where: Parade from Bomb Island to the dam; fireworks at Spence and Dreher islands.

Why: Watch the patriotic, fun boat parade as participants putter from Bomb Island to the dam. Then, as dusk descends, folks all around the lake can watch as one of the Midlands’ biggest fireworks shows.

Info: www.lakemurraycountry.com.

REGGAETRONIC MUSIC FESTIVAL

When: 11:30 a.m.-6 p.m. July 13.

Where: Spence Island.

Why: Hear a blend of modern reggae, rock and electronic music — while staying cool — for free. And if you purchase a VIP pass, proceeds got to charity. A portion of proceeds from Reggaetronic have benefited non-profits in South Carolina. To date, the festival has contributed over $10,000.

Info: reggaetronicsc.com.

LAKE MURRAY HUSTLE

When: 9 a.m., July 20

Where: 3072 Highway 378, Leesville.

Why: A disc-themed race? How can you not go? California Republic is hosting this SUP (stand up paddle racing) race with its disco theme and awards ceremony aboard a two-hour cruise on the Spirit of Lake Murray. There will be a 3-mile and 6-mile race, and a 1-mile beginner race.

Info: www.californiarepublicsup.com

SEE PURPLE MARTINS

When: July and early August.

Where: Typically near Bomb Island.

Why: Thousands of purple martins roost at Bomb Island, and for a few weeks, you can see them flying around the island in droves. When the birds leave their roosts in bulk each morning, they form enough of a cloud to be picked up on weather radar images — and when they return at night, they put on an acrobatic show.

This one we can’t guarantee — a few years ago, the migratory birds decided they liked Lake Monticello better. (They have since returned.)

Not sure you care about purple martins? Three words that may convince you: They. Eat. Mosquitoes.

Info: Keep an eye on the schedule for the yacht Spirit of Lake Murray, lakemurraycruises.com. A few public cruises to watch the birds are typically available.

DAM SWIM FOR DREW

When: Sept. 14.

Where: From the Irmo side of the Lake Murray dam to the Lexington side

Why: This annual 2-mile open-water swim honors the memory of 11-year-old Drew Smith, killed in 1997 when a speedboat smashed into the boat he and his father were fishing from in a Lake Murray cove. Proceeds benefit the Drew Smith Memorial Scholarship, a $1,000 scholarship awarded to a Lexington High School senior who participates in the swim.

Info: www.facebook.com/LHSDamSwimForDrew; www.strictlyrunning.com.

GO FOR A SWIM

When: Summer hours, starting May 2, are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.

Where: Lake Murray Public Park (on the Lexington side, aka Lake Murray Beach), 1832-1834 N. Lake Drive, Lexington.

Why: Columbia gets pretty hot in the summertime.

Info: Cost is $3 for cars and trucks, $2 for motorcycles and $5 for buses. Season passes are $45 a car. www.sceg.com/about-us/lakes-and-recreation.

LAKE MURRAY DAM RUN

When: TBA. Last year, it was in September. Keep a lookout on www.strictlyrunning.com for the 2019 date.

Where: From the Lexington side of Lake Murray dam to Saluda Shoals Park on the Irmo side.

Why: Because if you’re going to run a 10K race, shouldn’t it have a great view?

Info: www.facebook.com/LakeMurrayDamRun; www.strictlyrunning.com.

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