Disney World, Dollywood, Six Flags Over Georgia and other mega amusement parks might get the lion's share of public attention, but there still are a few smaller, family-run parks around the country that have a loyal following and that despite some difficult economic times are doing quite well, thank you. Lake Winnepesaukah just south of Chattanooga in Rossville, Ga., on Lakeview Drive, is one of them. It remains a viable entertainment venue for families, and plans for a new 5-acre water park there are likely to make it so for years to come.
Members of the family that has operated the popular park for four generations -- since 1925 -- announced Wednesday that construction on the addition will begin in January and be completed in time for the summer 2013 season. The water park, still to be named, will offer seven water slides, a splash park, a beach lagoon, a river, covered and uncovered seating and a changing area with lockers. Given the resumes of its architect and contractor, the multimillion dollar addition promises to be a first-class attraction.
Architect Chris Jones and Aquatic Builders, the contractor both have been involved in similar design and construction of water parks for Disney, Dollywood, Six Flags and others. Jones, in fact, said he had agreed to work on the project only if the family that owns Lake Winnie, as the park is affectionately known, agreed to "do it [the water park] right." That agreement was forthcoming and the project, which is expected to provide about 100 construction jobs and 50-60 seasonable jobs, moved quickly from the planning to "let's build it" stage.
Lake Winnie is part of n increasingly rare breed these days. Jim Futrell, a historian with the National Amusement Park Historical Association, reports that there are only about two dozen family-owned and operated parks left in the United States. All provide what patrons here and elsewhere inevitably describe as good, clean family fun -- the park here is alcohol free -- at what they say is a fair price. The latter will be especially true at Lake Winnie once the water park opens.
A park spokesman said Wednesday that entry into the water park would be included in the venue's standard price of admission.
Lake Winnie's operators hope the new attraction will bring a considerable number of additional visitors to the park. It should, and if it does it will be good not only for park owners but for the area economy as well.
The park provides jobs, helps keep money that might have been spent elsewhere in the community and adds to the area's expanding base of entertainment facilities. The water park also should provide the thousands who visit it with positive memories that can be recounted for a lifetime. That will maintain a happy tradition that has been more than eight decades in the making.