FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- It's that time of the year for swimmers to get their sunscreen and swimsuits ready as Fort Rucker prepares to officially welcome the summer swim season on one of Fort Rucker's most frequented waterways.

Lake Tholocco will officially open for the summer May 20 when Fort Rucker Outdoor Recreation hosts its Day at the Lake from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on West Beach, where people are invited to enjoy free swimming and inflatables, and take to the waters with canoes, kayaks and paddleboats, according to Janice Erdlitz, Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation marketing director.

In addition to fun on the water, the Center Library staff will be on site to host activities for people to build their own paper boats to test out on the water. People will also be able to purchase hot dogs, bratwurst and other snacks during the event, said Erdlitz.

People are also welcome to take to the waters with ODR's many watercraft, such as canoes, kayaks and paddleboats, said the marketing manager. Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult while using the watercraft and all patrons must wear a life jacket. The event is free and open to the public.

West Beach will officially open for the summer swim season beginning May 26, but patrons can get a jump on the official open date during the event. Patrons are also reminded that pets and glass container are prohibited on the beach areas for the safety of others, said Erdlitz.

After the event, West Beach will be open Fridays-Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Labor Day, and patrons will need to purchase swimming wrist bands from the West Beach swimming area. Daily passes will be free for those 2 and under, and cost $1.50 for ages 3-12, $2.25 for ages 13-17, and $3 for ages 18 and older.

As one of the largest and most well-known attractions on Fort Rucker, Lake Tholocco's West Beach, which is the designated swimming area for the lake, is fitted with a water trampoline and two water slides.

The beach also features nine pavilions available for rent throughout the summer swim season, two of which are indoor and air conditioned, according to Melissa Kelley, ODR lead recreation assistant. The rental rates range from $25-$85 per day with weekly rates available, as well, and there are also canopies available for rent ranging from 10'x10' to 20'x30', along with folding chairs, tables and basically anything people need for outdoor parties.

ODR also features boat rentals that people can use to take to the water, ranging from Jon boats, pontoon boats, ski boats, and even jet skis that are available on a first-come, first-served basis, said the recreation assistant.

To be eligible for the boat rentals, people must be a DOD civilian, active-duty military or a retired service member. Boat rental prices depend on the amount of time people would like the boat for.

Boaters are not required to have the Alabama vessel requirements to rent boats, said Kelley, but they do need to complete the Fort Rucker Boater Safety Course, which consists of 25 questions and is an open book exam that people can take free of charge. The course must be taken on site at the outdoor recreation service center.

For more information, call 255-4305.