By Stacy Frakes
When: February 1, 2014
Are you kidding me? How deep is the water? Can you see the other shore? Just a few of the questions that come out of mouths of virgin “Walk Across Lake Winnebago” participants. No, we are not kidding. Yes, the water is deep. Only some of the time can you see the other shore. But it’s all for a great cause; proceeds this year will benefit the Neenah Animal Shelter and the Menasha Police Department K-9 unit. The past three years $11,800 has been donated to the Neenah Animal Shelter on County Highway G in Neenah.
The beginning was in 2003 on a beautiful 32-degree day, as Connie Schultz, Jamie Caldwell and I walked east from the Paynes Point Hook & Spear Fishing Club landing. It was inspired by my leaving my purse at the Gobblers Knob in Stockbridge on Saturday night. We did not take a direct route but one that took us slightly to the south toward Stockbridge and a tree line put out by the Brickyard Fishing Club, an approximately 11-mile hike. It grew to be an annual fundraising event.
The direction of the walk changed in 2009. Instead of walking from the west to the east shore, we now bus people to Bobbers on the east side and walk to the west. With the help of GPS, we have a one-mile walk from Bobbers to the lake’s east shore, 7.5 miles on frozen Lake Winnebago and one-half mile to Mike’s Paynes Point Bar and Vinland Still & Grill for a total walk of roughly nine miles. This is when the party begins for those who have successfully made the trek. Live bands, dancing, laughter and comradery await. The goal for 2014 is 1000 walkers, with an ultimate goal of doing a “Hands Across Lake Winnebago” (currently calculated at 6,400 walkers). The walk is open to men, women and children of all ages.
Walks have been done in blinding snowstorms with GPS guidance, in sub-zero temperatures and one year in 50 degrees with no hats or mittens, just a lot of slushy snow. 2012 and 2013 brought unsafe ice conditions the day of the walk, so the actual walk was cancelled, but the party still went on. Things are looking up this year, with the ice on Lake Winnebago 12-13” thick already!
Peaked your interest? Up for the challenge? Just want to make a donation to the cause? There is a fee of $20 per person of which $10 goes directly to the Neenah Animal Shelter/Menasha Police Department K-9 unit, and the balance is used for a commemorative item and a can koozie. Matching long sleeve t-shirts are designed yearly and may be had for an additional $20. Information including registration is available at
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