Winning Essay by Jamie Riedle

"What Lake Springfield Means to Me"

As I watch the fireworks explode their yellow and blue colors into the night sky, during the annual "Rock the Dock" extravaganza, I cannot help but notice the people around me. As I admire the disappearing lights from above, I see how the boats are silently bobbing up and down in the water. I see and hear the kids running on the lawn, and I can hear the muffled small talk of the adults. All the while hearing the big booms as the fireworks explode and echo off the trees; this what Lake Springfield means to me. It is the calm and familiar atmosphere that makes me feel safe and secure. When I think of Lake Springfield I think of home.

Every year I go to my Aunt's and we watch the fireworks from her backyard. Family and friends are littered throughout the lawn sitting in lawn chairs or on blankets. Their faces glow with the color of the fireworks, and everyone is oohing and aahing. My little cousins laugh with excitement, while the adults watch with a content face. The gathering is the same every year, with the same people, food, and laughs. It is something I look forward to and something my family looks forward to every year.

I have grown up in Springfield and have been on the lake plenty of times. When I think of home I think of the street I grew up on, my school, the cool places to go around town, and the lake. All of those things have created memories for me that I have kept with me for the past eighteen years. I am proud to say I am from Springfield, Illinois. Some people think this place is too small and they cannot wait to leave. But to me it is home. Every time I pass over the dam and go into town I see the smokestacks. The familiar puffs of smoke exuding from the chimneys remind me of Springfield. As I cross the dam and I see the lake, it seems all too familiar. However, once I go off to college I will lose that familiarity. Once I leave I will miss the everyday reminders of home, especially the lake.