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As 50th Anniversary ends, new chapter begins for Smith Mountain Lake

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SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE (WSLS 10) - The party may be over, but as far as the Smith Mountain Lake community is concerned, the afterparty is just beginning.

The 50th anniversary of Smith Mountain Lake, which concluded on Tuesday, brought the community together in a way that no one saw coming.

"The community was interested, engaged, wanted to learn the history of the area they live in," said Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Vicki Gardner.

The monumental celebration, which encompassed some 90 events, brought thousands of visitors from all over the region.

"When YMCA-sponsored The Book of World Record Float, nobody expected 1,500 people to show up," said 50th Anniversary chair Bill Piatt.

The year-long anniversary proved to be more than just a landmark date.

Members of the visitor's center said it brought together both visitors and community members more than ever before.

"When everyone comes together and enjoys what they're doing, it makes it that much more fun," said Andrea Fansler who lives near the lake.

The many nonprofit organizations like the YMCA, the 4-H, and The Jersey Girls, put on first-ever events, that proved such a success, now they're carrying the torch into the future.

"We started the 50K run, had 200 people, so we plan to beat that record this year," says organizer Lauren Acker.

"We supported The Walk for Animals, we had 100 walkers, we're doing it again this year because of the success and we raised money for animal rescues," says The Jersey Girls member Fran Strumph.

Everyone involved in the celebration is determined to carry the momentum for years to come, making locals like Andrea Fransler, proud to call it home, "I wouldn't want to live anywhere else!"