FOX47 NEWS - Lake Delton Back in Business

Jeff Angileri
May 18, 2009, 8:54 PM

Last summer wasn't an easy one for business owners on Lake Delton.

The lake drained, gas prices reached $4 a gallon, the economy soured, and massive road construction slowed traffic.

This year, people are much more optimistic.

At the same time, they're soberly remembering the day Lake Delton drained -- that was June 9, 2008.

Raging waters ripped houses from foundations, swept away roads, and washed away the livelihoods of dozens of people. After Lake Delton drained, it sat; an empty, sandy, debris-filled hole.

A year later, the lake is refilled. To say resort owners are excited is an understatement.

People are going to be amazed, said Joe Eck, general manager of Wilderness Resorts. Eleven months later, there's a lake here. As a community, that's something Wisconsin Dells is very proud of.

We've all been doing happy dances, said Dawn Baker. All of us lake owners. It's a beautiful sight.

Dawn Baker remembers watching the lake drain, taking away 60% of her business at her Sunset Bay Resort.

We're waking up from a nightmare, she said. It's all over with. It's all good. Our lake is back. Phones are ringing.

Attendance at Tommy Bartlett's water show was even worse. Performers played to near-empty stadiums, only 10% their normal crowd.

Looking at a dry lake bed with weeds growing, and our jump sitting on it. It was a constant reminder everyday when you went to work that this is what you were going to be faced with the rest of the summer, said Tom Diehl, owner.

I kind of felt like I had lost my best friend, said Steve Zowin.

Zowin and his wife Cathy found it hard to sell water sports equipment when there was no water to enjoy.

Lake Delton is no longer the empty chasm people came to gawk at. County Highway A is rebuilt. Boats are riding the waves. And business is back.

And resort owners are imaging the moment it will hit them.

I think once we have a real busy day, nice sunny day, when boats are gone from the dock, Zowin said.

Said Dawn Baker, The first real warm day. Hopefully it's Memorial Day weekend. Psyched. I'm psyched!

Wisconsin and the Village of Lake Delton paid about $10 million to repair and refill Lake Delton.

People there have planned an entire day of events to celebrate the one-year anniversary, including a boat parade, water show, and luncheon.

Tourism officials say those events will take place, rain or shine.

10am -- Tommy Bartlett boat parade

4:30pm -- Tommy Bartlett free show

8:30pm -- Lakeside luminaries


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