By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterMay 14, 2018
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Swimsuits and sunscreen will be out in full force as Fort Rucker prepares to open its most frequented waterway for the summer season.
Fort Rucker Outdoor Recreation will officially open Lake Tholocco for the summer May 19 during Day at the Lake from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on West Beach, where people can get their first taste of a summer swim and take in the sun with a bit of outdoor recreation, according to Melissa Kelley, ODR lead recreation assistant.
The event will feature swimming, inflatable bounce houses for children, games, frozen T-shirt contest, and the use of canoes, kayaks and paddle boats, just to start, said Kelley. People will even get to take in some live music, performed by Michael Jay Hughes, who will perform country music and classic hits.
"This is a family-fun field day that is free and open to the public," said the lead recreation assistant, adding that food and beverages will be available for purchase.
During the event, Kelley said people are invited to take to the waters and try out some of ODR's many watercrafts. Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult while using the watercrafts and all patrons must wear a life jacket.
People are welcome to bring coolers and blankets to enjoy on the beach, but Kelley said that pets and glass containers are prohibited on the beach area.
Lake Tholocco's West Beach, which is the designated swimming area for the lake, is fitted with a water trampoline and two water slides, and is one of the largest and most well-known attractions on the installation.
While swimming in Lake Tholocco's waters, Kelley reminds people to keep safety a top priority.
"Certified lifeguards will be on duty when the area is open and adults please keep an eye on any small children that will be at the lake," she said. "Please remember there is no swimming when lifeguards are not on duty."
West Beach is just a small part of Lake Tholocco's 640 acres that people can take in throughout the summer season, said Kelley.
"We also have 22 beautiful cabins that are available for rent (through) Lake Tholocco lodging, and fishing, canoeing and jet skiing are just a few things ODR has to offer," she said.
Following 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.
The beach also features nine pavilions available for rent throughout the summer swim season, two of which are indoor and air conditioned, according to Kelley. The rental rates range from $26-$97 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.