OKOBOJI, Iowa (KCAU) — Summertime in Okoboji is right around the corner and crews have made repairs to one of the lakes’ largest attractions in order to prepare for Arnold’s Park’s 2022 tourist season.
Crews worked on the Queen II excursion boat after low water levels last summer caused minor damage to one of her bottom shafts.
Arnold’s Park is quiet for now but in just about three weeks, restaurants, marinas and parking lots will be packed full for another summer at the Iowa Great Lakes.
For many, the aura of the lakes wouldn’t be the same without what’s known as the “crown jewel” of Okoboji, the Queen II.
As a result, the amusement park’s CEO, Jon Pausley, said repairing the boat is a top priority.
The boat was lifted out of Okoboji Lake for the first time in six years with help from a company called Center Life, brought in all the way from Louisiana. They specialize in pulling large boats out of the water like the 75-ton Queen II.
“So it’s really just a series of airbags underneath there holding it up,” said Pausley. “When they get it up to the point up there they’ll brace it all together. We’ll do the repair, and then they’ll just roll her back and let the bags roll underneath so quite an amazing engineering process and simple in design but obviously a lot of coordination to be able to pull it off.”
Arnold’s Park’s board president Charly Whittenberg said if all goes well with this unique repair system, the organization may consider pulling the cruise vessel out each offseason to maintain its general upkeep.
Pausley said a bracket was broken off last summer after hitting a rock but said spring rains added some much-needed water depth heading into peak boating season.
“Water levels were down last year, that’s why what happened for the need of repair. We’re about eight inches up from where we were last year so we’re heading in the right direction,” said Pausley.
Despite the long process, Pausley said he expects the Queen II to be fully operational and giving lake tours once again when Arnold’s Park reopens for the season on May 21.