A hairpin-turning, lime green jet boat with the face of a shark painted on its facade is one of the latest attractions at Waterfront Park.
Mayor Greg Fischer and other dignitaries gathered at the park Thursday to announce the boat known as the Scream Machine and other new features and activities, such as excursions by the Louisville Kayak Co.
The officials also touted a number of events, from this weekend’s Hike, Bike and Paddle, to later ones, such as a new Funk Fest in August, that will keep Waterfront Park hopping for months to come with visitors from near and far.
“Waterfront Park alone draws more than two million people a year from our city and beyond and that’s growing every year,” Fischer said. “… There’s people visiting us from all over the world, all the time, to check it out.”
Those looking for thrill rides on the water can try out the Scream Machine, which also offers more sedate rides. In just a few weeks, more than 230 tickets — which range from $30 to $49 — already have been purchased, Capt. Edwin Brochin said.
The boat cuts through the water at speeds approaching 50 miles per hour. “I usually keep it a little bit less than that,” he said. “I usually keep it around 35 knots, depending on the conditions, but sometimes I will open it wide open.”
Brochin wanted to be at Waterfront Park because he was impressed with the investment the city has made in the park, which used to be a desolate area marred with junk.
“We brought the jet boat because I think the park really deserves something like that,” Brochin said.
Nature enthusiast Troy Eskridge is looking to take people on rides of a different kind with his Louisville Kayak Company For $35, he’s offering conservation tours, sunset tours and downtown tours.
Eskridge, a science teacher at Atherton High School, said he’s passionate about the birds and all of the wildlife in the area. “I’m all about conservation and changing people’s way that they think about the Ohio River.”
For park visitors who prefer to stay on land, Waterfront Park also has a host of other things to do, including the Adventure Playground & Waterplay, which has been renovated; Wheel Fun’s bike and Segway rentals; yoga and, of course, steamboat rides.
“If you want a relaxing ride on a historic steamboat, you’ll want to get tickets for a Belle of Louisville cruise,” said David Karem, president of the Waterfront Development Corp., in a news release. “If you want your heart to beat a little faster, try the Scream Machine.”