It was all about having fun and staying cool.
And a couple of thousand people flocking to Success Lake all had the same idea over the Memorial Day weekend.
Canopies, tables overflowing with snacks, food and drink; and water floats of all sizes and shapes lined the sides of the lake. One young mother held a two-month old baby while sitting next to a toddler who played inside a small portable crib slightly submerged in water.
On the water were water craft of all types and sizes, from a canoe to jet skis, to speedboats, to larger boats, one with a slide into the lake, fishing boats, and a houseboat.
“This is our first time out since COVID,” said Angel Benegal of Porterville. “We have about 20 people out here. It's been a lot of fun.”
The group, which included his wife, children, cousins and their families, arrived at 6 a.m. and were in the water by 6:30 a.m., he said.
Nearby, Tara Buentello of the Bakersfield area said she was there with 14 friends enjoying a day trip. They also had a large two-room tent.
And not far away, a large half-eaten birthday cake sat on a table, next to a variety of foods and snacks.
“It's my birthday today,” said Leticia Johnson. “I wanted to come out to the lake. I love this spot. It's easy for the kids.”
Johnson said she mentioned wanting to get a canoe for the trip and suddenly it turned into a big three-family gathering.
“We have 10 kids out in the water,” said Armando Lasaro of Fresno. “We're several families — the Lasaro, Garcia, Reyes and Johnson families. It's very hot, definitely a perfect day for the water.”
And apparently they weren't the only ones with the same idea.
“We have 104 camp sites and they are all full,” said Nancy Worster, Success Lake Camp Host.
Children life vests were also out, she said.
“We have two racks of them and ran out,” Worster said. “Our senior ranger went and bought all they could find at Walmart just to have enough.”
Over at the campsites, several spots were once again open. But that wasn't the case Friday and Saturday night, said David Gonzalez of Porterville.
“We have three different sites out here. We practically have a whole village out here. The whole clan is out swimming,” Gonzalez said. “We have six kids out on the water.”
Two young ones stayed at the site and were playing in water-filled plastic kiddie pools.
“It's her first time camping. Her first time in a pool,” said Amanda Diaz about her 10-month old baby, Aubrey Gonzalez.
Gonzalez and Diaz arrived Friday afternoon and are staying through Tuesday morning, Gonzalez said.
“It's been a lot of fun. We had menudo and made teriyaki chicken and all the kids have been playing,” said Amanda Diaz. “But last night all the kids — from all the campsites around here — were playing football on the grass.”
And without television or any cellular service at the lake, everyone got in on the fun, said Gonzalez.
“We had a really big water-balloon fight. Adults and kids got in on the action. It's great to be out again.”
It was a sentiment heard again and again.
“It's nice to have people — regulars and new ones — back at the lake,” Worster said. “Everyone wants to get out and do something. Last weekend too. It was not even a holiday and we were full.”
Worster said they had approximately 500 cars on Easter her first year there, about 4 to 5 years ago. And the last couple of weekends, has exceeded that daily amount.
“We've had hundreds of 'Day Use' people come through for the day,” Worster said. “And that's not counting all those who use our two kiosks and get their own pass.”