The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

May 24, 2013

Memorial Day weekend typically calm for parks, law enforcement

OTTUMWA — With summer unofficially kicking off this weekend, area officials ask those celebrating the holiday to have fun but stay safe.

Parks Director Gene Rathje said while camping in Ottumwa Park began on April 1, this weekend is the site's first big weekend of the summer.

"It's first-come, first-served, but there are always open spots," he said. "It hardly ever fills up, so there's plenty of room for everyone."

In general, people camping in Ottumwa behave themselves, he said.

"Some of the people who have caused trouble in the past, we don't allow in the campground anymore," he said. "Sometimes people can get a little rowdy at night if they've had too many beverages, and we have to tell them to quiet down, but generally they behave pretty well."

And those wanting to try out their new bathing suits may have a chance on Monday. Rathje said he might open the outdoor pool on Monday, "but on Saturday and Sunday — definitely not."

A temperature of at least 70 degrees by 11 a.m. is required in order for the outdoor pool to open up.

April and May equate to long hours for the parks department, he said, with employees turning on water in the parks, mowing, preparing the outdoor pool at the Beach and manicuring cemeteries to prepare for families on Memorial Day.

"We don't try to control what people do," he said. "As long as they follow the rules and behave, have fun and enjoy our parks and facilities."

Those wishing to camp out in Ottumwa Park can head to the campground and speak with the campground hosts, Rathje said, since there are no advance reservations available. Fees are $9 for a tent per night and $15 for an RV per night.

Police Chief Tom McAndrew said Memorial Day weekend doesn't prove problematic for his officers, since they don't see an uptick in incidents or arrests over the three-day holiday.

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