What Happened To 4 Bears Waterpark In Utica, Michigan?
Growing up in Rochester Hills, MI it was like hearing the best news in the world when our Mom told us she was gonna take us to 4 Bears Waterpark right down the road in Utica back when we were kids. This place had everything we loved from bumper boats, go karts, putt putt golf, a giant waterslide and nasty food that all kids love. But this park's closure was a complete mystery and almost seemed to come out of nowhere. When it happened, an entire community was puzzled and I wanted to try and get to the bottom of it.
There were lots of rumors circulating around the year 2000, saying two of the owners of the park were found dead, and there were also rumors that the founder of the park had something to do it in the end, however those are simply allegations and no proof was ever presented for him to be convicted. A website gangsterreport.com did a write up about some of the back-handed dealings that went on in the park:
Ask almost any resident of Metro Detroit about Four Bears and chances are the individual will rattle on about the park’s grand water slides, wave pool or bumper boats — a far cry from a would-be coke overdose, a self-inflicted gun shot wound to the chest and a slew of allegations and whispers that kept local and federal law enforcement officials relatively busy for much of the final two decades of the Twentieth Century.
Louis "Butch" Stramaglia was president of 4 Bears and was at the center of controversy for years, and after his brother died, things especially started to churn in the rumor mill. He openly gave an interview in 1983 to the Miami Herald about being friends with refuted Detroit mafia boss Jack Tocco:
I've known Jack Tocco, what difference does it make? I'd rather have Jack Tocco as a friend than 20 FBI agents.
Regardless of all the controversy, deaths and allegations, this place was a staple of so many childhoods and I can still remember going many times and enjoying being a kid in one of the best places around. It's unfortunate there were mishaps and tragedies that led to its closure, but it'll still hold up as one of the coolest waterparks in Michigan's history .