Lake of Ozarks prepares for Fourth of July weekend


CAMDEN COUNTY, Mo. – With the holiday weekend here, bar owners are preparing for a busy weekend at Lake of the Ozarks.

After bars and restaurants on the lake made national news on Memorial Day weekend, is there a plan for the Fourth of July?

Bar owners estimate there were about 800,000 visitors at Lake of the Ozarks during Memorial Day. This weekend, they are planning for 1 million people.

Shady Gators is a popular restaurant and bar at the lake. Jeremy Gorham, the co-owner of the bar for 14 years, said he plans to follow the same guidelines this weekend as Memorial Day.

“We are treating it like a normal holiday weekend,” he said. “We really do feel like this is going to be the biggest holiday weekend the lake has ever seen.”

The Lake of the Ozarks is preparing for one of its largest America’s birthday celebrations ever.

“We are actually a state that is open right now and a lot of other states are closed,” Gorham said. “So we are getting people that are coming from everywhere right now and I never thought we would see that.”

Gorham said Shady Gators has 30 bottles of hand sanitizer, plastic silverware, and paper menus to offer customers.

“We have thermometers to take people’s temperature on our big events before they come in here,” Gorham said. “We have bathroom attendants and we are constantly power-washing the place down every day; every inch of it.”

Remember that Lake of the Ozarks video over the Memorial Day weekend that went viral? One of the people who was there later tested positive for COVID-19 according to the Camden County Health Department.

That person was at Shady Gator’s on Saturday and Sunday.

“Two weeks later, we were counting down the days because they say you have to wait 14 days to see if you have it or not,” Gorham said.

Gorham admits he was nervous for Memorial Day weekend and said these past few months have been stressful on the business.

“It’s just been the most difficult summer I’ve ever endured,” Gorham said. It’s obviously been very stressful. We’ve had three concerts cancel and those take time and money to put those shows on.

He thinks it’s been one of their busiest summers yet because people want to get out of their house and Missouri is open.

“We are very grateful and appreciate everyone coming to the Lake of the Ozarks this summer,” Gorham said. “It doesn’t go unnoticed.”

Gorham said Shady Gators added more security and bathroom attendants this summer. He also said if an employee doesn’t feel well, that person will be sent home until they get a COVID-19 test and it’s negative.

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