Ted and Deb Festa know what it’s like to have a busy lifestyle.
For nearly 20 years, Deb worked as a city planner in Florida while her husband, Ted, built and renovated commercial and residential swimming pools. And they worked both jobs while raising seven children.
But after the Festas became empty nesters three years ago, they left Florida, bought Pine Lakes Resort in Pittsfield, Ill., and jointly started a new career as campground owners.
“We wanted a business venture where we could be together, work together and grow together, and this opportunity seemed right,” Deb Festa said, adding that she has many fond memories growing up camping with her family.
And after investing nearly $100,000 in improvements, the Festas have joined the Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts chain in a move they hope will not only strengthen their park’s appeal to families in the greater St. Louis area, but in other outlying areas from Troy, Mo., to Peoria, lll.
“We’re going to have our grand opening as a Jellystone Park on Memorial Day weekend,” Deb Festa said, adding that Yogi Bear will also make his first appearance at the park that weekend.
Jellystone Parks are famous for offering fun and family activities that include everything from crafts and games to “hay rides,” birthday parties with the bears and daily appearances by Yogi.
The Festas, for their part, already have mapped out five months worth of activities starting with three consecutive days of fun on Memorial Day weekend, which will include numerous games, dancing, gold panning in the campground’s gem mine and the park’s annual fishing derby for kids.
Summer activities will range from a pet weekend on June 25 and 26, when campers can show off their best-dressed dogs, cats and birds as well as any tricks they have trained their pets to perform. The park will also host an owner-pet look-alike contest.
A chocolate lovers weekend is slated for July 9 and 10, and will include a chocolate craft and a chocolate slip-n-slide as well as candy bar bingo, while the park’s first annual Olympic Games are scheduled for July 16 and 17.
The Festas will celebrate Yogi Bear’s birthday party Aug. 13 and 14 with a sand castle competition, a tug of war, ice cream and cake. In lieu of presents for Yogi Bear, guests will be encouraged to bring an unwrapped toy that will be donated to Toys for Tots.
Autumn activities include two Halloween themed weekends during the first two weekends of October with a haunted house, a haunted hike, trick-or-treating and prizes for the best decorated campsite.
The weekend of Oct. 15 and 16 will feature a haunted house and a tour of the area’s fall colors. A complete schedule of late spring, summer and fall activities is available on the park’s website at www.jellystonepinelakes.com.