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Canandaigua Lake Watershed Association says new flares for the Ring of Fire were a success

This year for the Ring of Fire on Canandaigua Lake, lake friendly flares were used and it was a success.

Canandaigua Lake Watershed Association (CLWA) announced today a successful first-year transition from incendiary flares to more lake-friendly LED flares along the shores of Canandaigua Lake for the 2021 Ring of Fire held on September 4, 2021. Wegmans Canandaigua reported 6,654 LED flares were purchased prior to the Ring of Fire.

In 2017, CLWA stopped selling incendiary flares as a fundraiser to align with its mission to protect the lake’s water quality and shores from environmental hazards. In 2021, CLWA efforts went a step further with a special collaboration courtesy of Wegmans Food Markets. This included the Wegmans store in Canandaigua, along with eight other Wegmans at lake locations in the Finger Lakes and Western New York, no longer selling incendiary flares and now carrying LED flares.

“The Canandaigua Lake Watershed Association found an environmentally sensitive alternative without compromising tradition,” said CLWA President Lynn Klotz. “I’m thrilled to have seen such a great response from the lake-wide community demonstrating their care for the quality of the biggest resource here, Canandaigua Lake. We invite all lake-side residents to take the pledge to convert to LED flares in 2022.”

CLWA members worked with Wegmans Food Markets earlier in the year on identifying the model to sell to replace incendiary flares with an LED flare. Wegmans discontinued selling incendiary flares and now carries both two-packs and six-packs of the LEDs, donating $2.00 and $6.00 respectively, to CLWA and Honeoye Lake Association for flares purchased through September 25, 2021.

Awareness and success of the LED flare project were due in large part to the vision and leadership of CLWA member Greg Talomie. He was supported by many other CLWA members, including Charlie Constantino and Chuck Wochele. Kevin Olvany of the Canandaigua Watershed Council and council members also were instrumental in the effort.

The LED flare being sold by Wegmans is reusable, shines long into the night, has a flicker mode, and can be seen one mile across the lake–all without leaving a chemical residue. These units resemble traditional flares and average approximately 90 to 100 hours of run time on regular or rechargeable +AAA batteries. Although more expensive than the chemical flares, LED flares can save money over time because they are reusable from year to year and can be used in a vehicle or boat.

The Festival of Lights (or Genundowa) was a Seneca native American custom to light lake fires to express gratitude for being saved from the Great Snake and for good hunting and fishing. Today, flares are used for Ring of Fire, but originally, the lake was lit with cattails soaked in kerosene and strategically stationed around the lake. The Ring of Fire as it is known today on Canandaigua Lake began in 1953 and includes the lighting of the first fire at the top of Bare Hill overlooking the lake followed by residents around the shoreline lighting a fire or flare. This creates a ring of red lights around the entire lake, marking the unofficial end of summer.