WHITING, Ind. - A floating water park is coming to Lake Michigan in northwest Indiana.
According to the park's website, the "WhoaZone" is set to open at Whihala Beach in Whiting on June 24. The floating water park will feature slides, towers, bridges, cliffs, monkey bars and a trampoline.
Workers started assembling the one-acre sports park along Lake Michigan Wednesday afternoon.
"It looks like a lot of fun and the kids will enjoy it," said beach-goer Steve Havlin.
The inflatable playground will sit in water that is about 5-12 feet deep, about 100 feet off the shore line. A short safety orientation is required and lifeguards are on duty.
"You get fitted with your life jacket at the top of the hour...it's really geared to be very safe," said commercial recreation specialist Ron Romens.
The park is located just over the Illinois-Indiana state line, about 20 miles south of downtown Chicago.
The $300,000 floating playground is a result of a joint venture between the city and the private company.
The beach, which has been public since 1979, also plans to have kayak and paddleboard rentals.
"Everybody loves going to the beach during the summer, but this gives it a different twist," said Mark Harbin of the City of Whiting Special Events Department.
Officials said "WhoaZone" is the first of several attractions they plan on using to draw more people to the lakefront of a town mostly known as home to the Midwest's largest oil refinery, the Whiting Refinery, BP's largest in the world.
"We're trying to turn the town into a destination," said Whiting Mayor Joe Stahura. "This is just one of the components you're going to see utilizing one of our biggest assets, Lake Michigan."
With the new attraction set to open this weekend, Dave Benjamin of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project spent the day teaching summer campers and kids about proper water safety.
"Knowing how to swim doesn't guarantee that someone won't drown," said Benjamin.
"WhoaZone" will be able to hold up to 120 people at a time. Users have to be at least 7 years old, 45 inches tall, and be able to swim.
Weather permitting, the park will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through September 4. A one-hour session will cost $20 and double session will be $30. Early-bird special tickets will be available for $15 between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. weekdays. Double early bird special tickets are $25 for 10 a.m. to noon weekdays.
The park's address is 1443 Park Service Road in Whiting.