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updated: 9/7/2012 9:08 AM

Island Lake's Venetian Night canceled due to low water levels

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Island Lake's annual Venetian Night boating extravaganza has been canceled because of low water levels on the town's eponymous lake, officials said.

The circus-themed event, set for Saturday night, won't be rescheduled, Mayor Debbie Herrmann said. It would have included a contest and a floating picnic at Eastway Park.

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The cancellation first was reported on the village's Facebook page. A sign was posted at Eastway Park, too, and village employees were told to pass the word.

Village Clerk Connie Mascillino, who coordinates the event each year, said she decided to pull the plug Wednesday evening after taking a boat ride to gauge conditions.

The depth of the man-made lake is only about 18 inches near shore and not much more further out, she said. Old tree stumps and rocks also present safety concerns.

"I'm very disheartened," she said.

Most of the boats that would participate already are in the lake, Herrmann said, and some are resting on the lake's bottom.

Water levels haven't been this low since a drought in the 1980s, Herrmann said.

Recent rains haven't made much of a dent in the water level.

"Three-quarters of an inch (of rain) in the grand scheme of things to fill up 78 acres doesn't really do it," she said.

The cancellation is the first in the event's 15-year history.

"We're very disappointed," said Linda Thomsen, president of the Island Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. "We had great plans for the event."

The chamber bought bottled water for the festivities as well as a trophy, which it was to have presented to the parade winner.

"We can take the water back but I think we're stuck with the trophy," Thomsen said.

Venetian Night typically is held the Saturday after Labor Day to mark the end of the boating season. As many as 17 boats would join the parade, Mascillino said.

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