Kayakers paddle into flooded ValleyFair amusement park, without ever touching ground

In March 2023, a viral image on the Quirky Minnesota Places Facebook page showed a Target shopping cart on a giant snow mound, symbolizing the long winter experienced in Minnesota that year. Similarly, in June, another viral image was posted on the same page, this time depicting three men kayaking past semi-submerged roller coasters at the partially flooded Valleyfair amusement park.

The kayaking expedition was led by Andrew Proball, a 37-year-old resident of Shakopee, who along with his friends Justin Berg and Karl Semeja, launched their paddle from Shakopee’s Memorial Park on June 28, 2023. The flooded Minnesota River had reached nearly the parking lot, and they navigated the swollen waters to the nearby Valleyfair amusement park.

Proball posted photos of their excursion on Facebook, which quickly garnered over 6,000 reactions, nearly 2,000 shares, and more than 600 comments. The comments ranged from jokes about the expanded water park to questions about the safety of the stunt.

Proball and his friends floated past three rides that had shut down due to the flooding: the Excalibur and Renegade roller coasters and the Thunder Canyon white-water rafting ride. They never entered through any gates, but instead floated right into the park.

One Valleyfair employee asked them to stay away from the rides, but they weren’t asked to leave. Proball, who had worked at Valleyfair’s ValleyScare Halloween attraction in the past, said the closed part they were in had a deserted post-apocalyptic feel.

Proball argues that his entry into the park wasn’t trespassing because he entered by floating on a public body of water and never touched land. He and his friends took safety precautions, including wearing life jackets, keeping a phone in a dry box, and staying together.

Valleyfair was aware of the kayak trip but had no further comment when contacted. Proball stated that he didn’t want anyone to get hurt and also didn’t want to make Valleyfair angry.

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