SPICER — COVID-19 has canceled many summer activities, from baseball to county fairs, but a slice of summer fun is open for business at the Big Kahuna Fun Park in Spicer.
Located on seven acres, the tree-lined park that currently features miniature golf and go-karts — with water bumper cars expected to be added next week — is one of the few family-friendly entertainment venues in the area that is open this summer.
Owners Michelle and Lee Gauer said they’ve adopted an extensive five-page preparedness plan to protect guests and employees from potential exposure to the coronavirus.
Employees are wearing masks, plexiglass has been installed and all surfaces that are touched — including golf clubs, balls, picnic tables, go-karts and bathrooms — are disinfected after every use, said Michelle Gaur. A special scoop is given to golfers to get balls out of cups on the course to reduce chances of spreading the virus from hands touching surfaces.
“We feel we have a really good plan,” said Lee Gauer. “People can have a fun experience in a safe manner.”
So far the response to the park being open has been good.
“People are craving something to do that’s fun and family-oriented,” said Michelle.
They opened for the season last weekend with a “steady stream” of customers and were “overwhelmed with positive responses,” said Lee. “They said 'We’re glad you’re open. We love your place. We’ll be back,’” he said.
Michelle said they want people to know they are open and eager to have guests. “Make some memories. Get some good fresh air. It’s good for all of us,” she said. “We have the fun.”
Although people are tired of being isolated because of COVID-19 and are eager to get out of the house, there may still be some skittishness about going places.
The Gauers said their business was down about 20 percent during the Memorial Day weekend compared to past years. But under the circumstances with COVID-19, and some rainy weather over the holiday, they said they were very pleased with the turnout.
The Big Kahuna’s immaculate grounds include water features, flowers, shade from large overhanging trees, music and tables for picnics.
“It’s an escape environment,” said Lee. “For those of you who have been feeling like you’ve been cooped up, come on out and escape out here and have some fun with it.”
The park includes an 18-hole mini golf course on about one acre of land.
“This is not a typical putt-putt,” said Lee. “This is a very large course and it’s challenging yet user-friendly and people love it from all ages.”
Michelle said they have plans in place for guests to pick up and drop off golf equipment to ensure each item is cleaned before use.
Because of the size of the course and distance between holes, Lee said it won’t be difficult for guests to maintain a safe distance from others while they’re playing.
“You could play that course with disinfected clubs, disinfected balls and a little hand scoop and you wouldn't have to touch anything that hadn’t been disinfected,” said Lee.
The go-kart track is also popular, he said. New this year are karts for young, smaller kids.
They’ve reduced the number of carts on the track by 33 percent in order to ensure social distancing.
At this time the inside arcade games are not being used and the water bumper cars and other water sports are expected to go online later this summer.
Also new this year, the Gauers, who have owned the business since 2016, have remodeled the interior part of the shop and have switched the restaurant contract to Godfather’s Pizza Express, which replaces the Subway franchise.
The menu will feature mini- and large-sized pizzas (including gluten-free), garlic bread, cheese sticks, super sticks with bacon, boneless chicken wings and dessert pizzas, with more items possibly added later.
The restaurant remodel and pizza is expected to be finished by mid-June.
Summer hours at the Big Kahuna are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week. Check their website, spicerfunpark.com and social media page for specials and new features. They can also be reached at 320-796-2445. The number for Godfather's Pizza Express is 320-409-1500.