For many Americans, Labor Day weekend marks the last chance to get away and have some fun before the summer ends -- and for many folks in the Grand Valley, that takes the form of boating on area lakes. Park officials say it's for that reason they'll be keeping watch to make sure everyone has a fun and safe holiday.
"It's exciting," said Cal Rice, who spent the weekend boating at Highline Lake State Park. "You can hit jumps and wakes and get up in the air -- fall off every once in a while."
Rice and his family say when it came time to decide what they were going to do with their Labor Day weekend, there was no question they'd be spending it at Highline Lake.
"We just have a really great time when we come out and relax and have a fun day on the lake," said Renee Rice.
With dozens of boats on the lake during the holiday weekend, park officials say only one thing is on their minds.
"We want everybody to be safe, have a good time, and go home in the evening," said Eric Los, a Colorado State Parks Officer at Highline Lake State Park.
Because when boaters don't play it safe, tragedy can strike. On Saturday, one person was killed and two others injured after a boat collided with a jet ski on a lake in Michigan.
The Rice family says in their experience, the boaters on Highline Lake are more aware of what's going on around them -- but still, they see their fair share of people putting themselves and others at risk.
"Of course at times you see boaters that aren't paying attention," said Renee Rice.
Something park staff says it will take steps to minimize.
"Any kind of safety violation or anything like that, we take very seriously out here," said Los.
Rangers say they've written numerous tickets this summer for people not wearing their life vests, not having an observer on board a boat pulling tubers or water skiers, and more serious offenses.
"I've already arrested two people this summer for BUI's out here," said Los.
Officials say a complete list of rules and regulations are posted at several points around the lake -- and if you're ever unsure if what you're doing breaks them, just ask.
"We'd rather talk to you in that kind of situation than to be standing there writing you a ticket," said Los.
Boating season at Highline Lake State Park will continue through October 1.
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