The crowded Fourth of July turnout in Arnolds Park is just a sampling of what Okoboji can look forward to when RAGBRAI rides through on July 20.
ARNOLDS PARK, Iowa (KTIV) -
People all across the country celebrated the Fourth of July Friday, and up at the Iowa Great Lakes they know how to celebrate.
This weekend, it's party time all the time.
But with parties, come more people - and that's something the community of Okoboji is gearing up for with RAGBRAI.
The Fourth of July in the Iowa Great Lakes is much like Memorial Day or Labor Day: crowded.
"It's these Iowa Great Lakes that bring everybody here," said Arnolds Park city council member Matt Richter. "We want everybody to come and enjoy it."
At the Preservation Plaza in Arnolds Park, and all over the Great Lakes, people are coming in by the thousands to celebrate in countless ways.
In the daytime, that is.
But, at night
"There's house parties all around the lakes," said Richter.
Partying is something the town will need to get used to.
Richter estimates an extra 125,000 people are in the Great Lakes area for this holiday weekend. Handling the high volume of people will prepare the area well for when RAGBRAI rides through on July 20.
"This is the 44th year of RAGBRAI and this is the first time they're overnighting here," said Richter.
Richter, who sits on the RAGBRAI advisory board, says that most campsites are already booked for the weekend of the ride. So many areas around the towns are helping with accommodations.
"You want to talk about a community-building event - the towns of Milford, Arnolds Park, Okoboji, Spirit Lake - for everybody to come together and take on this massive undertaking of RAGBRAI, it's just been awesome."
Local bars are helping out as well, even supplying their own live entertainment to help people relax after the 69 mile ride from Rock Valley.
"When RAGBRAI came here, they said, 'if there's one area that's set up to hold RAGBRAI, it's Okoboji,'" said Richter.
If they can handle an extra 125,000 people for the Fourth of July, an extra 25,000 to 30,000 should be no problem for Okoboji and the Great Lakes.
Plus, they'll do it in style.
"When this is done and they dip their tires in the Mississippi and they look back and go, 'Okay, what town did we have the most fun?', we want Okoboji and the Iowa Great Lakes to be that," said Richter.
And if the Fourth of July crowd is any indication, they'll reach that goal, no problem.
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