In our younger years, my brother Randy and I owned a water park named Water Mania. It was located in the heart of Central Florida and competed with the other Florida water park giants—Wet ‘n Wild and Disney. In order to attract more visitors to our park, we hosted major concerts at our wave pool. It was a sight not easily forgotten…thousands of people on the pool deck and floating on inner tubes in the pool while rock stars filled the night air with driving tunes.

In the late eighties and throughout the nineties, concerts at Water Mania were a regular thing. We closed in 2005 after twenty years in a very competitive water park industry. Many patrons remember the park rides, catchy jingles and beautiful setting, but the concerts galvanized our park in the minds of local residents as their park…the place where locals hung out.

One of the most memorable and well attended concerts was when Ted Nugent came to town. We typically provided a gift to the artists that played and we knew Ted was a hunter. Our gift to him was a hunting knife. He entertained the crowd and was down to earth and a perfect guest at Water Mania. After the concert, we were able to take a picture with him that still hangs on my wall.

I knew Ted was a hunter…so were we…but at that time I did not realize the depth of his love for the outdoors. Later, when we acquired a hunting property in Wisconsin and our young children began to get interested in hunting and fishing, our commitment to the outdoors grew even stronger.

Each summer, we would make the journey to Antigo, Wisconsin to prepare food plots, gather fire wood, clear trails and scout. We would take as many of our children and friends as could go. Later in the fall, we would return for bow season and gun season with as many family and friends that could make it. Ted’s unforgettable performance of Fred Bear became like an anthem to us. Could anybody have written more appropriate words for us? The first verse begins….

“There I was, back in the wild again.
I felt right at home, where I belong.
I had that feelin’, comin’ over me again.
Just like it happened so many times before” ….

Eyes would close, and heads would sway as Ted would “take me back, back where I belong”.

Hunting has helped create many traditions in our family. It doesn’t matter where we are, if any of us hear that song come on, we are taken right back to the woods, to our hunting camp; and to the good times we spent there…which is right where we belong.

Now my brother and I are much older and our children are the young ones leading the way. As we launch our signature brand of hunting and fishing gear, Wroxx, it is memories like those provided by Ted Nugent for which we are thankful. We gave him a hunting knife as a gift when he came to town, but he gave us so much more. Unknown to him, he provided the gift of memories that are still woven in the traditions for our family. Thank you, Ted.

Gary and Randy Larson

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