FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Although the South has been soaked with rain lately, the clouds parted and the sun shone through as hundreds made their way to Fort Rucker's own beach destination.

Fort Rucker Outdoor Recreation's Day at the Lake on West Beach at Lake Tholocco officially kicked off the summer swim season May 19 as people took to the waters, basked on the beaches and enjoyed some fun in the sun.

The event featured swimming, inflatable bounce houses, games, volleyball, and the use of watercraft and more, but for most family members, the simple act of being on the lake on a hot day was enough for them.

"The summers in the South are notoriously hot and humid, so to be able to finally get in the water and get some relief is what we've been looking forward to all year," said Sue Anne Baker, civilian from Enterprise. "(Lake Tholocco) is one of our favorite places to come during the summer because it's just right here -- it's a great place to come when we don't want to drive too far."

Baker said she and her two children enjoyed time in the paddleboats to explore the waters of the lake, but the bulk of their time was spent in the water cooling off.

"My kids love to swim -- that's their favorite thing to do in the summer," said the mother of two. "It doesn't matter what time of year it is, they just want to go swimming, so it makes me happy that summer is finally here and we can come here whenever we have time."

Not everyone enjoys taking to the water, though, but still enjoy their time in the sun. For Emily Stanton, military spouse, West Beach provides the one thing she's looking for when summer comes around -- a beach.

"I'm not big on getting in the water, but I do love a beach," said Stanton. "It's not always easy to make time to make it down to Panama City (Beach) or Destin, (Florida), so this is a great alternative. You've still got the beach you can lay out in and get some of that same feel, and I appreciate that."

Although Day at the Lake provided families with a bit of fun in the sun, it was only a sampling of what Fort Rucker ODR and Lake Tholocco have to offer, said Melissa Kelley, ODR lead recreation assistant.

"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 more things ODR has to offer."

Throughout the summer, 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 $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 to pontoon boats to 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 ODR service center.

For more information, call 255-4305.