LAYLA AND KYLER Gragg, both of Milwaukee, sit at a painting station during Green Lake’s Splash Into Summer last year. The event will return June 8. Ariana Hones photo
by Hannah Tetzlaff
I am not an early bird. I do not enjoy cracking my eyelids open before dawn.
Instead, I am some type of hybrid between a night owl and a perpetually exhausted pigeon, and I am fine with that.
But I do appreciate noticing the little changes as one season swaps with another: birds announcing their arrival with their songs at 5 a.m. and the sun peeking its head above the clouds soon after.
Summer will soon be upon us and I am thrilled.
But before I can revel in plans for some good old Laker country fun, I must address the elephant in the room. (And no, it is not me; I’m an exhausted pigeon/owl.)
What’s new in Green Lake?
Heidel House closed this week.
Fiore Companies had announced in March it was shutting down the 74-year-old resort May 20 along with its connected properties, such as Grey Rock restaurant and Evensong Spa.
Fiore cited the decision as the result of years of financial loss amid a change in the travel experiences families want, desiring vacation destinations similar to Wisconsin Dells instead.
Guth’s Candy Shoppe and Subway also closed shop in April.
But where one door closes another one opens.
A serious buyer is interested in Heidel House and continues to court the idea of purchasing the resort property, according to Green Lake Mayor Jon McConnell.
And Guth’s former building won’t be sitting empty this summer because Carrie Nolen purchased the space and is relocating her 5-year-old coffee shop, Sassafras, into the building. She noted in early May her plan is to be open at the new location by this weekend.
And despite the closure of some businesses, such as Heidel House and Subway, “we’re going to have a great summer, [and] all the [chamber] events are still in place,” said Liane Walsh in April.
Walsh is the executive director of the Green Lake Area Chamber of Commerce and, since our last Laker, has joined the city’s Common Council.
Fun to be had
As Walsh said, Laker country is streaming with events and activities. You can only be bored if you try real hard.
First on the docket is Memorial Day weekend.
Green Lake comes alive, bedecked in red, white and blue during the weekend with its annual parade Monday morning.
Adults and kids can join in the spirit of the parade, cheering for cars and floats that pass.
Tina Moser, host for the Green Lake Chamber of Commerce, pointed out the community has several big, popular events coming up in June.
“We have the first event, Splash Into Summer and the Chalk Walk, and that’s on June 8,” Moser said.
The family-friendly event will feature bounce houses, face painters, a fishing clinic, balloon twister, music, story time, heavy equipment, police cars and fire trucks to explore.
The event’s mission is to kick off summer with a family-fun bash and activities and food for children.
Moser also noted Concerts in the Park series will start several days after Splash Into Summer on June 12 with a performance put on by the Ripon High School jazz band.
The Wednesday-evening concert series will run through August.
“We [also] have the youth angler fishing tournament on June 15 … and the birth of the Clydesdales that are going on June 10 through the 15th,” Moser said.
But events aren’t all that Laker Green Lake has to offer.
According to Moser, visitors “can rent boats to go on the lake and they can rent boats from Shoreline [Boat Center] and Action Marina [Green Lake Boat Rentals].
“Pierless Boat Rentals has kayaks and paddle boards and they’re all open; that’s in the Green Lake Conference Center. They’re starting up already.”
If visitors don’t want to rent a boat but still desire to fish and lack the equipment necessary, they can check out a fishing tackle box along with fishing poles for adults and children at the Caestecker Public Library.
For a fun, mystery-themed day at the beach, families can pretend to be treasure hunters at Hattie Sherwood beach by checking out a metal detector from the library as well. Who knows, maybe someone will find a historical coin — or your everyday penny.
But that’s the beauty of it; you’ll never know what you’ll find if you take a chance and go out looking.
Berlin offers an aquatic center, featuring a pool and slides for youngsters to enjoy, and Ripon’s splash pad will open and be operating by Memorial Day weekend.
In Laker country, there’s plenty to do and almost not enough time to accomplish it all.