Sunday, July 24, 2022

Mystery of the Week


“How do you close a lake?” I saw a friend ask on Facebook. 

A dome? A zipper? A tarp? My imagination took off in several directions.

I was not alone. Over on the Howard County Recreation and Parks page, the following announcement drew a flurry questions.

The lake at Centennial Park is currently closed.  We apologize for the inconvenience.

That’s it. No other explanatory information. 

People wanted to know more. They wanted to know why. They wanted to know for how long. They wanted to know particulars of what this meant for park visitors. Sadly, whoever posted this did not anticipate the necessity of human interaction. As far as I know, they posted this and then went on vacation.


And, you know what they say about nature abhorring a vacuum…

People started making things up. Go and look for yourself. Hints of a crime scene were suggested. Elsewhere I saw a friend suggest Lake Monsters.

At some point someone shared a post from Special Olympics MD Howard County which announced that Centennial Lake would be closed due to an algae bloom. Okay, that’s a start. But it’s not enough. Clearly residents want to know what that means to them. 

But of course there’s no interactive communication going on. This was Friday. Now it’s Sunday and there’s still no response. The account appears to function for the sole purpose of pushing information out and not for interacting with the public. 

Or maybe this was the last post before the weekend and nobody monitors the account on the weekend. That’s not a crime. Everyone deserves to have a weekend. But it’s still a communications failure, especially because weekends are precisely when community members are most likely to have the free time to visit the park. And use the lake.

Social media is a great way to keep people informed and get your message out but, honestly, it can come around and bite you in the backside if you don’t understand how it works. If you leave a bunch of readers unsupervised without a good deal of helpful information, don’t be surprised if they start talking amongst themselves. Sometimes too little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

All that being said, let’s have some fun with this. Tell me your wrong answer for why Centennial Lake is closed. It can sound reasonable or be wildly unlikely. For example:

  • Reasonable: heavy rains washed away portions of the banks at the lake’s edge, posing a safety hazard.
  • Wildly unlikely: aliens. Aquatic ones.
In the meantime, here’s some helpful information from the CDC about algae blooms:

Avoid Algal-Bloom Associated Illness


An update from yesterday’s post: the Coral Reef Encounter will not take place this afternoon as originally planned. From the Columbia Association:

Due to the incredible turnout today, we unfortunately need to cancel tomorrow’s Coral Reef Encounter event at MacGill’s Common Pool. 

Don’t worry… we’ll see you again next year! Thanks to everyone who came out today 

Hmm…I wonder…acquatic aliens?

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