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Early Rush for Park’s Expanded Campground Spaces

January 4, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

The 63-year-old Aberdeen, S.D., man had the boots, the hat, the gloves and even the insulated clothing as he prepared to wait in line to make Wylie Park camping reservations Monday (Jan. 3).

He just didn’t need it.

Haak and a few others, all who arrived more than 12 hours early, spent more time sitting in their vehicles than standing outside, tmcnet.com reported.

“We would have if we had to, though,” said Haak, who was first in line.

Instead, he and the others placed lawn chairs at the door of the Aberdeen Recreation and Cultural Center to claim their spots — as has become common practice in the last few years. They then waited in their vehicles until just before 5 a.m., when they lined up at the door to be let in to wait out the last two hours in the warm building.

“It’s not bad,” said Haak, who waited from 5:15 p.m. Sunday until the time reservations started being taken at 7 a.m. Monday.

“Everybody knows how the system goes.” And they likely do. There were a lot of familiar faces among the 40 or so people who waited inside the building when the line began moving. By 8 a.m., they had all been accommodated, said Doug Johnson, parks and rec director.

While a few holiday weekend openings were still left as of Monday afternoon, they were filling fast, Johnson said .

Until this year, there were 92 RV sites, seven primitive cabins, one residence and several tent sites for rent. But because of a recent campground expansion, there will be 23 additional RV sites and several additional tent sites starting Memorial Day weekend.

“We’re hoping for a nice summer with a lot of very nice weather,” he said.

Haak and the friends who waited much of the night in the parking lot with him — Terry Boyle, 64, of Mansfield; Roger Huettl, 64, of Aberdeen; and Stan Beckler, 61, of Bath — hope for the same.

The four spent some of the night sitting in Haak’s pickup, listening to the radio. Haak said he got about two hours of sleep.

“We like to be the first ones in line,” he said.

On Monday morning, as Haak waited, he was hoping the time spent paid off. He wanted to reserve a particular cabin for the Fourth of July weekend and also other spots for additional weekends in the summer, including Labor Day.

But as he sat down to make his reservation, he learned that the cabin had already been snatched up by someone making a reservation over the phone. He had to go with his second choice.

Johnson said that sometimes happens. There are three people taking telephone reservations and three people on site taking reservations as well, he said.

“Obviously people have the choice of being on site versus someone out of town,” Johnson said. “… Hopefully, that’s a fair process.” Wylie Park campground reservations are still being taken.

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