Familiar Face: Linda Lake
Anyone who visits Lake James State Park when the Paddy’s Creek Area swim beach is open (May – September) knows the bathhouse breezeway can be a hopping place. Weekend and holiday crowds gather under the archway to purchase swim bands, grab a cold drink or an ice cream, rent a canoe or gather with family before hitting the beach. In the thick of it all is the familiar face of concessions stand manager Linda Lake. No matter how hectic things get at her windows, Linda keeps her cool as she attends to the needs of as many as 5,000 people a day. In addition to selling snacks and drinks, swim bands and renting canoes, kayaks and paddleboards, Linda is an invaluable source of park information for visitors searching for the right trail or the perfect campsite.
Originally from Melbourne, FL, Linda moved to western North Carolina 20 years ago and has worked all of that time with Burke County Schools in the Freedom High School cafeteria. The 2016 swim beach season marked her 5th summer at Lake James State Park and she has no intention of stopping anytime soon.
“I just love it here,” she said. “I love the park and all of the trails and the people who work here. Sometimes it can be difficult to accommodate people when it’s really busy and the lines are long, but most of the time they’re understanding and patient.”
The concession stand has closed for the year, but you can be sure Linda is already looking forward to next season. “The worst part about working here is when the season ends,” she admitted. “I just can’t wait to come back.”