The season for pontoon rides, furnished by Sleepy Eye Sportsmen’s Boating and Bobbers, has come to an end.

Where did summer go? The season for pontoon rides, furnished by Sleepy Eye Sportsmen’s Boating and Bobbers, has come to an end. The local volunteers, who reorganized under the Boating and Bobbers name last spring, had a great summer with a full schedule of boating and fishing excursions.

Linda Schueler, who takes reservations and keeps records of the trips out on the lake, said they entertained 853 guests this summer. “We had 114 runs and 50 scheduled runs were cancelled—generally due to weather,” she said.

You know what that means? The dedicated crew of volunteers had a group of guests out on the lake two or three times a day on weekdays this summer. The trips include a leisurely cruise around the lake, with a stop for fishing if those on board want to wet a line.

There are 50 volunteers on the Sleepy Eye Sportsmen’s Boating and Bobbers crew, including 11 couples who often work together. Crew members are Captains, who drive the pontoon, and First Mates, who assist guests in getting on and off the boat and remaining comfortable on the trip. Both crew members help with fishing as needed.

Schueler said while anyone may book a trip, the majority of the trips are for senior citizens from nursing homes and assisted living facilities throughout the region. “Some who come from out of town make it a day and have lunch at the Railway too,” she said. “The people who book the trips tell us that their residents might start asking them in February if they are going on the pontoon again.”

When the group reorganized before the season a new pontoon was needed quickly. They asked local businesses, organizations, the city and individuals to support the effort. The community came through. “The boat was paid for when we picked it up,” said Schueler.

Boating and Bobbers exists on donations—including from those who enjoy the summer excursions on Sleepy Eye Lake.