LAKE OF THE OZARKS, Mo. — Photos and videos of vacationers in swimming pools at Lake of the Ozarks gained national attention over the Memorial Day weekend, and one of the venues that landed in the spotlight was Backwater Jacks.
The venue, mistakenly called “Blackwater Jack’s” by CNN host Don Lemon, who discussed Lake of the Ozarks Memorial Day revelry with Camden County Sheriff Tony Helms on Monday night, has responded to the coverage with a letter posted on their Facebook page.
The letter, signed by owner Gary Prewitt, is republished in full, below. Here's a drone video provided to LakeExpo of the pool party on Saturday, May 23, Memorial Day weekend.
May 26, 2020
RE: Memorial Weekend at Lake of the Ozarks
With the recent coverage of the Lake of the Ozarks this weekend, especially our venue, we would like to address the following:
1. No laws were broken. Social distancing is not a crime. As stated by the Camden County Sheriff: “Camden County is a tourism-driven economy and each business is working hard to follow the state’s guidelines and protect their patrons and staff. Those who frequented the businesses, bars, and restaurants at the lake this weekend made a conscious decision to attend each event and frequent each location. It was the right and responsibility of each individual who made those decisions to access the risks inherent to those decisions.”
2. Non-contact thermal checks were conducted at both entrances to the pool by medical staff hired for the event. This upset many customers, however it was an additional layer we chose to implement. Anyone with above a 100.4 temperature was refused entry.
3. Personal bottles of FDA-approved hand sanitizer were made available for free to all attendees upon entry and for the duration of the event.
4. Despite false reporting, the name of the event “Zero Ducks Given” had absolutely nothing to do with the pandemic situation. This is the third year of the event series that takes place on each holiday weekend.
5. Unfortunately, our business is seasonal and nearly a third of our season has already been lost. The initial shut down has already had a tremendous impact on many of our staff and their families. All staff were given a choice of whether they wanted to work without any negative consequences if they chose not to.
We understand that there are many emotions and feelings involved on every side of the pandemic situation. Any hateful messages attacking our business, our customers, our staff, or other businesses in our community will not be tolerated and removed from our social media. For our loyal customers who stand in support, thank you. For customers we may have lost, thank you for your previous patronage and we hope to win your business back in the future. We stand by our decision to move forward with Memorial Day Weekend plans. We love our customers and will continue to do our best to provide delicious food, drink, and entertainment at Backwater Jack’s.
Gary D. Prewitt
Backwater Jacks Owner