published Sunday, April 21st, 2013

You can watch SoakYa take shape (with video)

Water park set to open Memorial Day weekend at Lake Winnie
The five-acre "SoakYa" water park is set to open Memorial Day weekend at Lake Winnepesaukah in Rossville, Ga. The park will feature a lazy river as well as six different water slides. Admission to the park will rise from $26 to $31.95, which will include an unlimited ride pass and admittance to both parks.
Work continues on the SoakYa water park at Lake Winnepesaukah on Thursday. The park is set to open May 24.
Work continues on the SoakYa water park at Lake Winnepesaukah on Thursday. The park is set to open May 24.
Photo by Patrick Smith.

SOAKYA FACTS

• It marks the first major expansion of Lake Winnepesaukah since the Cannon Ball Roller Coaster was built in 1967.

• Cost: $6.3 million.

• Ticket price: Lake Winnie will charge $31.95 for adults and $15.95 for kids and seniors, which will include access to both the water park and the "dry" side of the park.

• Water tubes and life jackets for children will be available free at Soakya. Parking also is free.

• The park's miniature tour train will drop visitors off at Soakya.

• Soakya will be the only water park in the immediate area, with the closest competitors about 21/2 hours away.

Source: Lake Winnepesaukah

Five months of construction work — compressed down to three minutes.

That's what everyone will be able to watch in a few weeks on Lake Winnepesaukah's website, since the amusement park aimed a time-lapse camera at the construction of SoakYa, the attraction's five-acre water park that's due to open May 24.

"I said we should do a time-lapse and found a camera that did it," Lake Winnie's games and merchandise manager Greg Morrow said.

Morrow plans to edit the footage and post it online.

Since SoakYa's Jan. 9 groundbreaking, workers have transformed what was previously a flat, overflow parking lot into a hill studded with metal pipes that will support water slides.

This island is surrounded by a "lazy river," an 868-foot-long, 14-foot-wide channel lined with sprayed-on concrete about half a foot thick.

The SoakYa construction site was crawling with workers Thursday and heavy-equipment operators were excavating dirt for the last section of the lazy river.

The dirt had been left in place to serve as a land bridge to the island. But work had progressed to the point where that no longer was needed.

Orange, pink, green and blue fiberglass water slide components were laid out in a field near the construction site, so they could be partially assembled and then hoisted onto the superstructure.

"This is precise work, believe it or not," said Steve Olenik, chief installer for AquaBlue International, a North Carolina water slide manufacturer.

The park will have six slides, he said, two of which will be for small children. Larger children and adults will be able to use body slides and even wider slides to allow tubing.

Morrow and park spokeswoman Talley Green pointed out other features taking shape at the construction site including a waterfall, a "wave lagoon" with a zero-entry beach (marked by a gradual slope into the water) and the "Coke float," a pool off the lazy river on which swimmers will try to walk across lily padlike floats that look like Coke, Sprite and Dr Pepper bottle tops.

"It's soon to be an oasis of fun," Green said.

Project Superintendent Thomas Lampron oversees construction of water parks around the country for Aquatic Development Group Inc., based near Albany, N.Y.

"We're getting there," he said of SoakYa, which he's shepherded since its Jan. 9 groundbreaking.

Morrow and his family live at a house on the amusement park's grounds. They've had a front-yard view of the SoakYa construction work since its start.

He said he will be happy when the work's done -- but his 21/2-year-old son Cameron won't.

"He wants it to keep going," Morrow said.

Green asked, "Is this not a 21/2-year-old's [playland]? Forget the Tonka trucks."

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6651.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers Catoosa and Walker counties for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California. Stories he's covered include crime in blighted parts of metro Detroit and Reno, Nev.; environmental activists tree-sitting in California's Sierra Nevada foothills; attempts by the Michigan Militia to take over a township¹s government in northern Michigan. A native of Michigan, ...

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