Boaters descend on Illinois' Chain O'Lakes, undeterred by high gas prices

WAUCONDA, Ill. (WLS) -- John and Marianna Desmond are looking forward to a big weekend on the lake with their grandkids on their pontoon boat. But first they have to fill up the gas tank - and that takes a big bite out of their bank account these days.

"The price of gas scares me in my car, so at least we can enjoy it," Marianna Desmond said. "More fun to be on the water than on the road."

With overcast skies Friday, it's the calm before what is expected to be a very busy holiday weekend. The forecast is expected to cooperate. And it's a very busy time for the folks at Wauconda Boats, getting watercraft out of winter storage and into the water.

"They all want it for this weekend," Ed Salisbury said. "Yes, the guys have been on overtime all week through Sunday morning."

At the harbor office the phone is ringing off the hook, with many customers looking to rent boats for the weekend. Despite the cost, however, boaters are anxious to hit the water and get the boating season underway.

"I think people are looking to get to and enjoy outside life, no matter what it costs," said Mark Ftacek, Wauconda Park District.

On the Chain O'Lakes, water levels are high. There's a no-wake order on nearby Bang's Lake right now, but the Desmond family is undaunted.

"It's always nice when the dock goes in and we can get out on the water because it's a long winter," john Desmond said. "It has been a really long winter."

The boat slips here are all full right now, and in fact, there's even a waiting list.
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