Traditions run deep at Lake of the Ozarks. From the families that spend their vacations on the water to the resort owners who host holiday gatherings, the lake area has it all.

Traditions run deep at Lake of the Ozarks. From the families that spend their vacations on the water to the resort owners who host holiday gatherings, the lake area has it all.

Summer weekends bring visitors from all over the country, but one week seems to out-rank most. Fourth of July weekend at the lake is all about tradition, relaxation and family time. For many visitors, coming to the lake the week of July 4 has become a long standing tradition. 

A relaxing tradition

Mallard Point


For 43 years, Bruce Thomson has owned Mallard Point Resort which is nestled on a flat peninsula on the main channel of Lake of the Ozarks. For Bruce and his family, the resort is a relaxing place for visitors to come and simply enjoy what the lake has to offer. The property is home to 18 units and four private homes, all located on the water. All offer a full kitchen and are fully stocked for visitors. All they must do is bring food and their beach towels. 

The resort has changed quite a bit since Thomson bought it in 1973. Units have been added and renovated, homes have been added to the property, a honeymoon sweet was built, decks were added to the pool and the main house was renovated. For the past few years, weddings have been hosted at their point.  

The resort is now run by Bruce and his wife Cecilia. 

For the past seven years, one couple has been making Mallard Point their fourth of July vacation spot. Rich and Sherry Harrison of southern Illinois choose to spend the week relaxing at the lake. 

Rich has been coming to the lake for 50 years since his parents brought him when he was a child. He even recalls coming to the lake area with a few buddies for his high school senior trip. For the past 17 years, Sherry has been coming with Rich. 

For the Harrisons, it is all about relaxation. 

"We sit out here and watch everyone set their fireworks off," Sherry said of one of their favorite things to do over the fourth of July. 

"To get away once a year, we always do the fourth because there is more people. If you want to go see action, it's available. If you don't want to, this is off the beaten path," Rich added. 

The Harrisons tend to travel often but are usually on the go. 

"This is one of the few trips we actually take where we relax," Sherry said. 

Their typical day at the lake starts with a few hours by the pool then in to town for lunch or a round of miniature golf. 

A family tradition


When 18-year-old Sheryl Gross moved to the Lake of the Ozarks with her family, she did not know that she would become an integral part of one of the lake's beloved family ran resorts. Alhonna Resort was originally built in the mid 1950's and has seen four different sets of owners. Shafer and Shirley Gross bought the resort in 1980 and have owned it the longest of all the owners. Now, Alhonna has three generations of Grosses running the place. 

Shafer passed away in 2010, but Shirley and many other family members along with staffers think that the family can keep the resort going to this day. 

Sheryl moved away for college and moved back in 1991 when her first son was born. All three of her children, ages range from 13 to 24, now help out around the resort. 

The 60-room resort has two pools, hot tubs, a marina with boat rental, a beach, docks, Bobber's restaurant and lounge and more. 

The family feel of the resort keeps the visitors coming back each year. Alhonna even welcomes the four-legged members of the family.

"We have people that still come back every fourth of July," Sheryl Gross Elia said.  

The Grosses do not host any fourth of July activities since they are busy working behind the scenes but understand why visitors choose the fourth of the July as their week of choice. 

"It's a fun time to come," Elia said. 

A tradition of celebration

Point Randall

Michael Spriggs fondly recalls growing up on his family-owned resort at the Lake of the Ozarks. One of his favorite memories revolves around fourth of July. 

In 1965, Point Randall Resort was built by Nobel and Opal Randall. The Randalls opened on Memorial Day weekend with six cabins. Before they sold the resort in 1980, they had added three more cabins. That is when Spriggs' parents bought the resort. He was five years old when Point Randall became his home. 

Over time, the resort grew to be the home of 29 total units. 

In 2003, Michael and his wife Paulette bought the property from his parents and still run it to this day. 

When Michael thinks back to Fourth of Julys of the past, he remembers his family hosting a barbeque with all of the resort's guests. His dad would cook pork steak and visitors would bring a dish. He and his brother would raid the cooler of kool-aid. The cook-out tradition lasted until 1991. 

Now, he and his wife have started traditions of their own. The first year the couple owned the resort, a neighbor invited them over to watch fireworks. The Spriggs along with some of the resort's tenants enjoyed watching that year. The next year, they helped their neighbor with the firework show which has now been turned over to the Spriggs. 

Since 2005, they have hosted their firework show on their breakwater. Residents, neighbors, swimmers and boaters stop by for the annual event. A close friend of Michaels has passed by on water skis while holding an American Flag every Fourth of July Evening for the past few years. 

"It feels great to be a part of these people's fourth of July every year," Michael said. 

About two or three years ago, the family added live music to their Independence day celebration. This year Shawn C. will be serenading the crowd. 

"People responded to that well," Paulette said of the live entertainment. 

Visitors will enjoy the sounds of Shawn C. from the lake, the pool and on the dock. 

Fireworks are set to begin at dark. The extra festivities may add extra work for the Spriggs, but they would not have it any other way. 

"To see the excitement in their faces and them looking forward to that show, makes it worth it," Paulette said.

The Spriggs' faith is extremely important to them and spills over into their business. 

"Running a faith-based business is important to us," Paulette said. "It just seemed natural." 

The Spriggs' have two children, Brody, 7, and Kathleen, 5, who enjoy making new friends each week at the resort. 

Like many locally owned resorts, Point Randall hosts many repeat customers each year. One customer who is currently staying at the resort has been coming to the lake for the fourth of July for 30 years.