Lake Toys

Filed in On The Lake, Recreation by on March 21, 2014

Photo Courtesy of Rave Sports

Photo Courtesy of Rave Sports

As we look outside at the frozen snow-covered lake, it is difficult to image the sun, sand and water combining to make a perfect day of play. Let’s try anyway. Close your eyes and envision a clam, sunny afternoon spent on the lake. You’re waterskiing with family and friends, at an age when you didn’t have a care in the world.

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Photo Courtesy of Rave Sports

“Faster, faster!” you yell as you give a thumbs up to the spotter, undoubtedly a friend or sibling eagerly awaiting a turn. You haul yourself into the boat when your turn ends, handing the sopping lifejacket to the next skier. Round and round you go, finally docking the boat as the sun begins flirting with the western horizon. In a desperate attempt to use every bit of the day’s warm sunlight, you and your friends get a second wind and effortlessly swim out to the diving dock.

You do remember that diving dock, don’t you? The faux-carpeted, musty green hulk built atop a couple of 55-gallon drums? Yes, that one. As a child, very few lake toys aw more use than our diving dock, but they’re difficult to find these days. The era of inflatable lake toys has definitely deflated the antique diving dock population.

Rod Rohlfs, operations manager of Shoreline Industries for ShoreMaster, recalls that one of his first lake toys was an old inner tube that was hitched behind a boat with a rope.

Photo Courtesy of Rave Sports

Photo Courtesy of Rave Sports

“Things have changed quite a bit over the years,” he says, “and the industry is getting a lot smarter designing lake toys.” From towable rotating tubes to anchored jungle gym type rafts, today’s toys meet a wide variety of needs.

In addition to wider age range availability, innovations in variety and durability have truly helped the inflatable lake toy industry explode the last few years.

“Towables go down a bit when the price of gas rises, but this helps our stationary toy sales,” says Dale Graff, general manager of ShoreMaster’s Waterfront Division. When gas prices are high, many people opt to keep their boats on the lifts.

Aviva Splash Zone

Aviva Splash Zone

 

Some of the more popular stationary toy models are Aviva’s Splash Zone (jumping surface, balancing log and slide), Rock-it-Totter (2-person water teeter-totter), and Space Mountain (7-foot climbing wall/slide).

Likely to be seen this summer are newer models featuring components which can be purchased individually as stand-alone unites or as packages that allow for a more obstacle-course type of play. These types of stationary toys are fun and provide various ways for youngsters to keep entertained all day while they’re getting plenty of exercise. Modular units are likely to pop up at a few of the area’s local resorts, as they’re liekly to be very attractive resort amenities.

If you’re in the market for a new water toy, there are some things to keep in mind when shopping. For towable toys, Donavan Rasmusson of Lakes Area Docks & Lifts says you’ll need to spend $80 to $100 to get a sturdy product that will last. “Going to an actual dealer will allow you to get better advice regarding what (toy) will work best for your situation,” Rasmusson says.

Graff adds that it is “most important to think of the age range of the kids and to get something that keeps them all interested.”

Aviva Space Mountain

Aviva Space Mountain

Safety is extremely important with any lake toy, and buyers should always read the manufacturer’s safety instructions prior to use. With stationary inflatable toys, pay close attention to the ever-changing anchoring methods so your toys aren’t gone with the wind.

While there is no cost, all stationary rafts must also be registered with the local Minnesota Department of Natural Resources office if they are to be anchored in open water out from one’s dock. Finally, to keep up with boating law changes, boaters should read the latest copy of the DNR Boating Guide on an annual basis.

While lake toys have changed quite a bit over the years, one thing remains the same in the heart of the lakes area: They definitely keep the fun alive on the water. By following the experts advice and state regulations, you’ll be sure to get the most out of your lake toys. Above all, have fun, use common sense and be safe when playing on the lake.

by Tyler Wirth, a writer from Alexandria.

 

 

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