Winamac Park Board Puts River Tubing Excursion Organizer on Probation

Entrance to the Winamac Town Park

BYOB tubing excursions down the Tippecanoe River have proved to be a major visitor draw for the Town of Winamac. But complaints from local residents have led the town’s park board to lay out some rules before letting them return this year.

Cannonball Productions organizes “Lazy River Tubing” trips from the Downtown Chicago area each summer. According to Eventbrite listings for past excursions, the company provides bus transportation to Riverside Rentals in Winamac for what they call “a day of BYOB river tubing on the Tippecanoe River.” After three hours of floating down the river, trip-goers then arrive at the Winamac Town Park for an “all-you-can-eat taco bar,” as well as volleyball, basketball, and a Slip ‘n’ Slide.

During last week’s park board meeting, Park Manager Dave DeLorenzo said the group has requested to rent a shelter and use the back of the park once again this year. Before granting their request, he sought the board’s input.

Member Chris Schramm said he’s gotten a number of complaints. “You know, I hear a lot of them at the Sheriff’s Department, too,” he said. “And I go down there a lot, and it seems like whenever you walk through by the buses, I mean there’s 50 guys there – I don’t want to say heckling you, but they’re all intoxicated and I’ve watched them urinate. I just want them to have a better policing of what they’re doing down there, is my standpoint. I don’t want to stop them, don’t get me wrong, but I want a better policing of what they’re doing.”

He added that the buses that bring the visitors nearly block the park’s roadway when they’re parked, and pose a danger when they’re moving. “Those bus drivers, it’s as fast as they can go, it seems like, because they’re all on a time restraint,” he said. “And you guys have seen those buses driving around there. I mean, I stood in front of him one day because he was driving so fast. Luckily he stopped, but it’s just as fast as they can go out that drive.”

In the end, the park board decided to let Cannonball Productions return to the Town Park this year, but put the company on probation. Board members directed DeLorenzo to compile a list of rules the group will be expected to follow, in order to use the park. They also discussed designating a certain area for bus parking, to alleviate congestion in the back of the park.