There may be no one more eager to christen the lake "open for business" than Tom Diehl, owner of the Tommy Bartlett Show. Ask any of the Dells locals, and they'll tell you it was Diehl who was hardest hit when the lake drained, stranding his water ski show and lopping off nearly all his seasonal income in one fell swoop. Yet, through the hardship, it was also Diehl who volunteered tirelessly on behalf of the entire Village of Lake Delton, while shying away from any accolades for his work, to make certain the mammoth task of remaking the lake would happen in less than a year's time. The Tommy Bartlett Show is making a comeback this summer, which is just what you'd expect from Diehl.
"The lake being back for the summer of 2009 is a tremendous boost to all the affected businesses. I'm deeply grateful to all those who worked so hard to ensure the lake's return."
Then there's Dawn Baker, co-owner of Baker's Sunset Bay Resort, a spot so popular for Wisconsin Dells family reunions and return guests that it's like old home week there every day of the summer. On the infamous day, Baker stood in disbelief, watching the waters pull away from her beach. She was interviewed often by reporters wanting to get her first-hand perspective. Today, she's happy to provide it.
“We felt like we had lost our best friend when we lost the lake. It's exciting to see our old friend again."
General Manager at Original Wisconsin Ducks®, Dan Gavinski, had to reroute their land-to-water tours last summer, bypassing the lake and spending more time on the Wisconsin River. This summer, the Duck tour will once again include the famous splashdown in Lake Delton.
"It brought a smile to all of our faces when the repair work was completed and the lake began to refill. Our passengers will get a real treat when they see the new lake up close on our amphibious tours."
Finally, Joe Eck, marketing director for the Wilderness on the Lake resort. In a nice turnabout, the Wisconsin Dells resort extended an invitation to any guest who had been there on that fateful June 9 to return this year on the same day, compliments of the resort.
"We want all of our guests to be awed at what a difference a year makes."
Wisconsin Dells business owners classify themselves as fierce but friendly competitors, yet this event rallied the community together like never before and brought out the best in everyone. And that was the silver lining to one very large storm cloud.