By Linda Lovely
It’s been five years since I had the privilege of doing a book signing at the Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum in Arnolds Park/Lake Okoboji, Iowa. All profits from the museum’s sales of my mystery, NO WAKE
ZONE, benefited the museum, which still sells copies in its museum store.
In the last month, Historic Arnolds Park Inc. announced its plans for a major renovation to the facilities of the 128-year-old amusement park. Plans include an expansion of the Maritime Museum, new parking, completion of the restoration of The Majestic Pavilion, a new Roof Garden, and many more improvements. An anonymous group of donors have pledged to match up to $6 million for the renovation project.
I believe this announcement and Arnolds Park’s continued success owe a great debt of gratitude to my late cousin, Stephen Ross Kennedy. So in this blog I’d once again like to salute Steve, one of the Maritime Museum’s founders and its first director. Steve also was the first captain of the Queen II, an excursion boat that plies the waters of Okoboji West every summer. NO WAKE
ZONE is dedicated to his
|Statue of Steve Kennedy at Park|
While book launches and signings are always fun, this one was truly special. It let me spotlight a life that mattered. In no small part, Steve’s infectious enthusiasm is responsible for helping a number of the lake region’s family fun staples continue to flourish. His life and contributions should be a lesson to us all when we’re tempted to shrug our shoulders and ask “why bother?”
Steve didn’t graduate from college. It wasn’t his cup of tea. But he loved the Iowa Great Lakes and read any book about the region’s history he could lay his hands on. He worked in a drug store, joined the Chamber. When the idea of bringing a grand excursion boat back to the lakes took root, he sought donations door-to-door. When the Queen II was christened, he was ecstatic to be asked to be its first captain. Never mind that he’d never driven anything larger than his beloved Hafer motorboat. As Steve guided the Queen II around
his humor-laced patter brought patrons back again and again. Soon the Queen
paid off its debts and banked profits were saved to build the Maritime Museum,
a magical time capsule that includes all types of memorabilia from nineteenth
century ladies’ bathing suits to boats with gleaming mahogany exteriors. Lake Okoboji
|Steve and me at Lake Okoboji.|
While the “cousin” in NO WAKE
is fictional, there’s no doubt who inspired my affable character, Captain Ross.
And I’m delighted to report the institutions that play major roles in my novel
are real treasures of the Iowa Great Lakes. While I hope you’ll read my mystery,
I hope even more that you have occasion to board the Queen II for a cruise and
visit the Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum located in Historic Arnolds Park.
Maybe you’ll even hear Steve’s good-natured chuckle on the breeze.
Do you like to read books set in real locations? Authors, do you ever salute your loved ones by incorporating their personalities in your cast of characters?