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Column: Taking a deep dive into Lake McDonald’s

A Tyrannosaurus menacingly chases after Ronald McDonald, clenching a McDonald’s logo in its jaws. A flying reptile swoops just above the ground as another creature extends its head out of the water, showing its sharp teeth.

The scene unfolds on the flooded grounds of the Wading River McDonald’s.

Just another day at Lake McDonald’s.

The image, which gained plenty of laughs on social media, is the handiwork of Jennifer Rocca of Wading River. It’s one of a half-dozen edited images she’s created depicting different scenes at the flooded parking lots of both McDonald’s and Walgreens on Route 25A, which have been a constant nuisance for residents for years.

Ever since Ms. Rocca moved from Amityville to Wading River with her husband and two children, about four years ago, they’ve dealt with the floods.

“Every time in rains, it floods,” she said.

A freelance graphic designer, Ms. Rocca saw frequent posts on the Shoreham-Wading River community Facebook page with pictures of the floods. She had the idea recently to take one of those images and put her skills to work. The talk in the Facebook group was about how the flood would soon freeze over with the arrival of cold temperatures. So she created an image of four ice skaters twirling in front of Walgreens as snow falls, with a snowman propped up in the foreground.

She posted the image in the Facebook group of more than 8,000 people on Jan. 20 with the hashtag #fixourflood. It soon had more than 300 likes and dozens of comments.

She posted another image featuring the Disney character Elsa from “Frozen.” And from there, she was off.

“Every day I started to do a new one because I thought they were funny,” she said. “I like to make light of things and I think it makes people laugh. And I’ve always loved making pictures.”

On Jan. 23, she posted an image of the sinking Titanic up against an iceberg. The movie character Jack Dawson clings to a floating board next to Rose DeWitt Bukater.

“I think I found a hobby,” Ms. Rocca notes in the post, which received about 400 likes.

Ms. Rocca said people seemed to be enjoying the images so much, she couldn’t help but keep going. She’ll be in her house when an idea pops into her head and she bursts out laughing.

“The dinosaur one is pretty much because my son is obsessed with dinosaurs,” she said. 

Riverhead Town recently issued notices of violation to both Walgreens and McDonald’s. The floods often require the entrance roads leading from the parking lots to Wading River-Manorville Road to be closed to traffic.

Ms. Rocca said she’s always enjoyed creating images. At her previous job at a printing company in Farmingdale, she would create images for people’s birthdays. She might place an image of co-worker’s face onto Bob Ross painting, for example.

“I’ve always loved doing that kind of stuff,” she said. “But now I just do it with a McDonald’s lake.”

Other people have followed suit, also creating images of the flood, although they aren’t as skillfully done as Ms. Rocca’s. 

Ms. Rocca said she uses Adobe Illustrator to manipulate images, each of which takes about 15 to 20 minutes to create.

When she posted the dinosaur image Jan. 24, she wrote: “Last one, I swear.”

But why stop a good thing?

On Tuesday night, her most recent image showed Aquaman walking out of the lake as a wave breaks over his head. Her message in that post: “I think we should keep the lake.”

One commenter replied: “If [you] can guarantee me he will come out of the lake, I agree.”

Ms. Rocca said she’s received text messages from other moms she knows in the community, some saying she’s crazy and funny and have made their week.

“You can’t explain it to anybody else but in our town,” she said. “If I send it to anybody else, they’re not going to get it.”

She’s received contrasting responses within her own home. Her kids, ages 7 and 4, think they’re funny, she said. 

“My husband thinks I’m crazy,” she said.

Photo caption: The flooded parking lot in Wading River has proved to be problematic for early-20th-century passenger ships. (Jennifer Rocca Illustration) 

The author is the editor of the Riverhead News-Review and The Suffolk Times. He can be reached at 631-354-8049 or