East Lake Park will be open to the public beginning with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, November 6, 2020 at 12:00pm. The City requests that people please stay off of the sod this fall.
Okoboji, Iowa – Imagine Iowa Great Lakes and the City of Okoboji are excited to announce the completion of the East Lake Park on highway 71, near the boat dock and the intersection of Sanborn Avenue and Hwy 71. Imagine will celebrate this accomplishment with a ribbon cutting ceremony and a short presentation from the city and a couple of Imagine board members on November 6th at 12:00 noon.
Since 2018, the City of Okoboji had formulated plans to revitalize this property. The City felt as though the property was underutilized, the shoreline overgrown, and that it had quite a bit of potential. After some preliminary discussion, the City pitched the idea to Imagine Iowa Great Lakes and from that point forward a partnership was formed. Once the design process began, the City of Okoboji and Imagine Iowa Great Lakes worked hard on every detail of this park from issues as small as trash cans to issues as important as parking. Perhaps most meaningful however, was the evolution of the Minnie Queen play structure. Originally presented with a tug boat concept, the City wondered out loud on the possibilities of modeling the boat after the Queen II. It was not long after that Imagine Iowa Great Lakes obtained the original blueprints of the Queen II and the custom play
structure was in the works. No detail was spared on this park and it has truly transformed what was an uninspiring piece of property into yet another picturesque Okoboji location. “I truly believe that this park and the partnerships formed during this process have allowed for a once in a generation type of project. The City of Okoboji is so fortunate to have partnered with Imagine Iowa Great Lakes, the Iowa DNR, and 17 Oaks Condo Association to turn an underutilized piece of public lakefront property and transform it into what truly will be an iconic Okoboji landmark for generations to come. The Iowa Great Lakes area is so fortunate to have so many good people doing great things and this is a shining example of just that. The City thanks Imagine Iowa Great Lakes for their shared vision of this space, their lead on this project, and their continued support in beautifying and enhancing the Okoboji area,” said Michael Meyers, City Administrator.
The Minnie Queen was designed by ape Studio, Inc. a custom playground manufacturer. Some of the play features are a slide from the upper deck, a net tunnel as way to get up to top deck, a crawl tunnel as way up to top deck, a bridge for wheel chair use, kling klang disc, triangular net, coconut ropes, cargo boxes, hear and speaking trumpet, octoscope, captain’s house, and the bell. The blue rubberized play surface is 4 shades of blue to resemble the lake. The bathrooms remain on the IDNR property, there are two. And of course, the park will have benches, picnic tables and trash cans for public use. In regard to beautification, there are many native plants, trees and shrubs. In total there are over 3,600 plants in this new park. Everything from white pine trees to flowering raspberry plants have been planted here. “We have received so many positive comments about the park. The clearing of the overgrown brush on the lakeshore was a huge improvement and it totally changes the view as you drive along highway 71. And once the playground equipment arrived and they started to build the Minnie Queen, there was so much overwhelming excitement about the new park. And of course, once people realized it was a replica of the Queen II, it brought even more sentiment to this park and to this area, as a tribute to our history,” said Michele Goodenow, Executive Director of Imagine Iowa Great Lakes.
Why the name “Minnie Queen”? Some of you may think this is just a smaller version of the Queen II at Arnolds Park and thus the name. Actually, that is not the reason for the name. When the town of Orleans was formed on the south shore of Spirit Lake it was originally named Minnie Waukon. Because the residents did not like writing out such a long name, they began to abbreviate it to Minnie. This irritated some of the people so much that they decided to change the name to Orleans, after the railroad which came up from New Orleans, Louisiana. Since the Queen was originally on Big Spirit Lake on Minnewaukon Beach, the beach is still named as such (spelling changed slightly over the years), it seemed appropriate to call the Queen II replica in the park, the Minnie Queen.
Photo courtesy of Imagine Iowa Great Lakes