Gator making a splash at pool parties

By RaeChelle Davis, Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Alligators usually don’t make the guest list, but they’re VIPs at these parties.

"You've had the Chuck E Cheese party, the clown party, the jump-a-roo bounce house," said Bob Barrett, owner of Alligator Attractions in Johns Pass Village.

"You say, 'Well, we're gonna have a party,'" he said. "They go, 'That's nice.' But you say, 'We're going to have a pool party with a gator.' They go, 'What?' Everybody comes."

Customer Debbie Rubenstein said she has used the service multiple times.

"Nobody believed that we'd have actual gators in the pool,” she said.

The gator, it turns out, fits right in. He plays Marco Polo with the kids in Rubenstein’s pool. His name is Burger, and he does not mind that his mouth is taped shut.  Barrett starts out every party with a course in gator safety, which allows the kids a chance to warm up to the reptile.

“At first, my friend and I were really scared of gators, but I'm not going to be scared anymore because it's cool," said Fiona Sierra, a guest at the party. "All the stuff I never knew, I'm starting to learn about."

Barrett said the chlorine does not bother the gators. He came up with the idea while brainstorming on how to keep busy during months when tourism is slow at his attraction.

“We had the idea of, well, if we do a home, and they have a pool, let's put the gator in the pool," he said. "People were very leery at the beginning, but it has taken off and people just enjoy it."

He said he checked to make sure bringing gators to homes was legal and could not find any indication that it was not.

So, if a gator shows up in a pool near you, give him a second glance. He may have been invited

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission investigating

The FWC has taken in interest in Barrett's business and is "looking into" alligators being put into swimming pools with people during parties.

Gary Morse with FWC said his organization has received multiple calls about this case.

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