CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Whitewater Center hosts its first major event this season, serving as a test to see if park goers are ready to return after a teen lost her life after coming in contact with a brain-eating amoeba there.
Tuck Fest kicked off Friday night. The event includes live music, kayaking races and rock climbing competitions. It has attracted more than 30,000 people to the park in the past.
"We are very fortunate to have had such a loyal consumer and guest base," said Eric Osterhus, Brand Manager at the Whitewater Center.
"I see everyone come back out and we're always focused on giving our guests the best possible experience while there here," he said.
Jean Bell, of Gastonia, is a frequent visitor of the park. He often brings his grandson.
"I had to take off work and bring him out here to do some activities," he said.
The activity that 10-year-old Chase Bell is looking forward to the most.
"We're going to do some whitewater rafting," he beamed.
Last July, 18-year-old Lauren Seitz of Ohio died after from a rare brain-eating amoeba entered her system after whitewater rafting. The incident forced the park to close early and suspend water activities.
"It freaked me out," said Christine Phillips of Mooresville. "To have it happen here locally, it was very scary."
New regulations were put in place. The chlorine, pH levels and temperatures are now measured twice a day.
"They took extreme those measures to try to fix stuff and make things right, that made me feel better," Phillips said.
The new safety measures seem to have had an impact. Osterhus says attendance is picking up.
"It's been very steady, honestly on an upswing," he said.
Haley Pitman has been to the park at least seven times since it opened for the season in March.
"We're season pass holders and we come out here all the time," she said.
Bell says he will continue to bring his grandson as often as he can.
"It was an unfortunate thing that happened, but it's something that people need to be aware of," he said. "We're going to continue to come here no matter what."
Tuck Fest continues all weekend long at the Whitewater Center.
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