The first cable park of its kind in the northern Illinois/southern Wisconsin area is now open. Rockford Park District, in partnership with operator Daniel Jarrett, recently held a dedication ceremony to open West Rock Wake Park at Levings Lake, 1420 S. Pierpont Ave., Rockford. Those in attendance enjoyed music by Fiesta Band and 3+3 while enjoying a “Taste of Southwest Rockford,” thanks to SWIFTT (South West Ideas for Today and Tomorrow), which has been working with area vendors to provide samplings. The following vendors were on site: Zammuto’s, Luichi’s Hot Dogs, Chiquita Food Market, Delicias Bakery, Guanajuato Market and Tienda La Chiquita.
Rockford Park District staff was contacted in spring 2014 by local wake board/cable park expert Jarrett to discuss the opportunity of partnering to bring a wake park to Rockford. After several meetings, it was determined that Levings Lake was the ideal location because of its depth, structure and amenities. Jarrett and District staff met on location with respective members of the Rockford City Council, Winnebago County Board, SWIFTT, and have also been in discussions with BeachWatch, LLC, which operates the swimming beach and paddle boat operations at Levings Lake. All unanimously supported the idea of bringing a wake park to Levings Lake. Total estimated start-up cost for the West Rock Wake Park was $190,000. The City of Rockford (led by Ald. Venita Hervey, D-5), Winnebago County (led by County Board member Dorothy Redd, D-18), and Rockford Park District each committed $15,000 toward the project to bring in the needed electricity to the location, as well as prep the shoreline, dock, and anchors for cabling equipment. West Rock Wake Park funded the remainder of the project.
“I started to water ski at age 5, and as the years went on, I fell in love with wakeboarding,” Jarrett, West Rock Wake Park operator, said. “Cable parks have been popping up all over the world, but my wife Amy and I made it our mission to bring this amazing sport and opportunity to Rockford. I can’t wait to watch others enjoy this experience.”
Park District Deputy Director of Operations Jay Sandine added: “Levings Park is among the most beautiful parks in our region, and the lake and all of its amenities is an ideal location for West Rock Wake Park. The wake park will complement other activities at the park, especially the beach operation, and will draw people from out of town to try something new and unique.”
Cable skiing was invented in Germany in 1959; the sport is very popular in Europe, and is gaining momentum in the United States, with parks in Florida, Texas and Georgia. West Rock Wake Park provides an opportunity for people to water ski or wake board, by which the skier’s rope and handle are pulled by an electrically-driven cable instead of a traditional motorboat.
West Rock Wake Park uses Sesitec’s revolutionary and environmentally friendly two-tower straight-line cable system called System 2.0. This new, innovative, and mobile System 2.0 revolutionized what was once unthinkable for wakeboarding by making it possible to take the sport anywhere. Although rider capacity is limited to one rider at a time, System 2.0 provides a safe, quiet, and personal way to learn how to ride.
System 2.0 consists of two cables generally suspended 26 to 30 feet above the water and running parallel to one another, with carriers between them every 80 meters. The carriers are metal tubes that can hook up tow ropes with riders. Tow ropes are detached and attached at the same time without slowing the system down, which is the main reason for the high efficiency. Other important advantages of the cables compared to boats are environmental friendliness, and the enormous capacity. The electric motor of the cable is quiet, clean and energy efficient. The new activity at Levings Lake will also provide benefits to the lake, and particularly fishing, through the added oxygenation created by water movement.
For the first-timer and pro alike, progression happens quickly because of the amount of uninterrupted time on the water, riding continuously back and forth between each tower. Plus, with the variety of features on the lake, advanced riders will have endless opportunity for growth in the sport.
For 2014 only, the following prices include beginner board and boots, helmet, life jacket and instruction:
• One hour — $20 per person (cable time shared with up to three other riders); each additional hour is $15.
• Two hours — $30 per person (cable time shared with up to three other riders); each additional hour is $15.
• Riders 12 and younger — $10 per hour (must have an adult/guardian present)
• Unlimited rides — Weekdays from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. All beginner gear included, and use of SUP (Stand Up Paddleboards) for $35. First come, first served — no reservations available. West Rock Wake Park will cap the cables at eight riders per cable for the Open Ride sessions.
Reservations are strongly recommended, and can be made online at www.westrockwakepark.com. Riders should show up at least 15 minutes prior to the reserved slot to allow for ample time to pay and check in. A waiver must also be signed. Guests can also rent slider boards, wakeskates, and stand-up paddleboards by the hour.
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Check Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for hour changes, and unexpected closures because of weather, etc.
From the Aug. 13-19, 2014, issue