The City of Whiting and Commercial Recreation Specialists (CRS) kicked off a summer of fun with then opening of the WhoaZone at Whihala Beach on Saturday. Beachgoers stormed the lake to try their hand at the floating obstacle course, the first of its kind on Lake Michigan.
Spread out over an acre of water, the WhoaZone features numerous floating obstacles for visitors to challenge, separated into three levels of difficulty. For only $20, guests can spend an hour summiting slopes, climbing across monkey bars, and more. Whiting Mayor Joe Stahura hopes that the new attraction will show there’s more to the city than the refinery they’re proud of.
“The idea is just to bring people to town,” said Mayor Stahura. “A lot of people don’t even know where Whiting is, so this can bring them here and show them what we’re all about. We have a cool little city here and we want to showcase it, and hopefully help our businesses at the same time.”
The staff at the WhoaZone take safety very seriously. A small army of lifeguards watch from the beach and on the course. Before each outing staff briefs challengers on the set of rules they need to follow, while helping equip them with life jackets. In particular, CRS co-owner Rich Wills urges guests to follow their number one rule - safety - to the letter.
“Our first and most important rule is to have fun,” said Wills. “It’s going to bring a lot of excitement and fun to the area. It’ll draw thousands to the area over the summer who’ll be exposed to Whiting. Hopefully it’ll get people spending the day here, then visiting the local shops and resturants.”
The beautiful Whihala Beach is one of Whiting’s most impressive assets, and the WhoaZone is part of an initiative to get people from out of town coming in and seeing all the city has to offer.
“What the Mayor is trying to do is make the City of Whiting a family destination,” said Amy Frets, Director of Communications for the city. “The big questions is what can we do that’s unique and gets people from everywhere to come. This is what fills that niche, and it can only grow from here. Utilizing our lakefront – that’s huge.”
And they certainly accomplished that goal even on the first day. The first course runners came from both the region and beyond. Travis Middleton, who conquered much of the course, came out with his friend from Thornton, Illinois to be among the first to attempt the WhoaZone course.
“I loved it, I thought it was amazing,” he said. “The rock climbing wall was my favorite part, not many people were able to do it. I’ll definitely come back out here for a double session!”
To learn more about the WhoaZone at Whihala, visit www.whoazonewhihala.com.