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Thousands turn out for annual AquaPalooza

AquaPalooza 2013 participants raise their hands in hopes of catching a T-shirt, beach ball or other giveaway from event co-sponsor Benne Media as they float out in front of the Dog Days waterfront stage Saturday.

AquaPalooza 2013 participants raise their hands in hopes of catching a T-shirt, beach ball or other giveaway from event co-sponsor Benne Media as they float out in front of the Dog Days waterfront stage Saturday. Photo by Samantha Edmondson.

AquaPalooza has become the largest on-the-water family boating party at the Lake of the Ozarks.

For the past four years, the one-day celebration has attracted approximately 10,000 participants and more than 1,000 boats. For one 20-plus group of friends and their families from the Chicago area, AquaPalooza has become a tradition.

Richard Zehme bought a second home in Osage Beach in 2001, and last year invited his friends — including the Paulin and Walkenhorst families from his native Chicago — to take in a family-friendly day of boating at Lake of the Ozarks.

“We have a boat slip at Dog Days, and our daughter Julia works here during the summer, as well,” said Zehme, who lounged beside his clan at the event Saturday on the docks of Dog Days Bar and Grill in Osage Beach. “This is our second year coming to AquaPalooza. We really enjoy the people, the atmosphere and hanging out with our friends and family on the water.”

Like Zehme, who owns the “Contagious” vessel, many boaters have found the longtime event just as contagious for summertime on-water entertainment.

Passing the torch

For several years, longtime primary sponsor Marine Max presented AquaPalooza Lake of the Ozarks, but two years ago passed the AquaPalooza torch to the Lake of the Ozarks Marine Dealers Association. They hoped the new main sponsors would allow the event to continue its growth in popularity and participants.

The Lake of the Ozarks Marine Dealers Association’s TheLakeBoatStore.com is the main sponsor of this event and has expanded this boating family tradition, presenting lots of fun giveaways, four bands on the Dog Days waterfront stage and an afternoon filled with relaxed entertainment.

The last two weekends of July is when the nationwide AquaPalooza event is held. More than 100 locations participate. In the past four years, AquaPalooza has more than tripled in size.

For more information, visit www.lomdaboats.com or www.aquapalooza.com.

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