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Cody-Go-Karts: Three decades of putts, slides, rides Tell North Platte what you think
Photo by Joe Chitwood
Bobbie and son Caden Miller enjoy slick track go-kart racing.
Photo by Joe Chitwood
Fun on bumper boats
Photo by Joe Chitwood
Dixie and Duane Gaedke
Photo by Joe Chitwood
Jeff and Robin Gaedke
Photo by Joe Chitwood
Alexis Lande slides to her mom Elyshia Lande.
Photo by Joe Chitwood
Visitors enjoy miniature golf.
Photo by Joe Chitwood
Duane at a rock wall that will be part of the golf course expansion.

Cody Go Karts has offered a wide variety of activity for young and old since it opened in 1981, and in 2012, Jeff and Robin Gaedke became second generation owners, buying the business from Jeff’s parents

The elder Gaedkes, Duane and Dixie, had two reasons for opening the facility 33 years ago.

"I was tired of wearing a suit," Duane said. "I had previously worked for Xerox and then opened B & D office supply. Also, we wanted to do this because we saw a need in North Platte. We wanted something for kids to do."

"Duane was the 'D' in B & D," Dixie said.

 When the Gaedkes bought the property in 1980, it was an overflow lot for the neighboring campground.

he said. "Dowhower construction assembled my buildings, I laid the ground work for the track and Simon construction put the pavement in." 

During the winter Duane built bumper boats in his garage.

“It was a lot of work, and about killed me," he said.

They opened in the summer of 1981 with a figure 8 go-cart track and bumper boats. In 1983, the big blue water slide opened. In the years 1983-89, kiddie land and the drop and whip slides were added.

In 1990, Gaedke added a second, slicker track for go kart races. A small miniature golf course opened in 1997.

Duane made the plans, designed the layouts and did the landscaping. He grew Catalpa trees from pods in floor pots that his father gave him.

"The Catalpas provide shade for the slick track and bloom every year around Nebraskaland Days," Dixie said. "People always talk about how pretty they are and I try to save some pods to give to customers that want to plant one in their yards."

Since purchasing the business two years ago, Jeff and Robin have updated the place.

"We extended our parking lot, opening it up,” Jeff Gaedke said, and they added a new attraction -- the Rolling Video Games trailer, which was a big investment, but one that Jeff believes will grow in popularity.

The owners also plan to build a new miniature golf course north of the property, a project that has been in the works for years.

"It’s been a long time coming,” Jeff said. “My dad started it 20 years ago. He has been working on it off and on, doing the work himself.”

When Jeff bought the business in 2012, he said he kind of put the pressure on Duane to get the course finished.

“It’s probably a couple years away yet, but it will be done,” he said. “We want to use the current golf course space for something else, maybe laser tag.” 

When complete, the new miniature golf course will have 22 holes, featuring waterfalls and manmade rock walls, as well as a hand dug well lined with 1880 brick, a large clubhouse and ponds.

"It will also feature a cave for visitors to pass through, including a jail area with holograms of miners," Duane said.

Duane and Dixie still help with the operation. Duane helps maintain equipment. Dixie works concessions and runs the water slides. She is proud that her husband invented a compound that is spread on pavement to create the slick tracks.

“We market our compound to other go-cart tracks around the USA,” she said.

The facility appeals to adults as well as kids. Adults enjoy bumper boats and go carts the best, Jeff said. 

“We have lots of regular local customers, but we also get customers from all over the USA,” he said. “We get them literally from California to Maine.”

Families who stay at the next-door campground come over and enjoy the recreation.

“We had someone from Spain the other day,” Robin said. “It seems like when someone hosts foreign exchange students, they come here.”

Nebraskaland Days and other special events in the community boost their business too, bringing visitors to the city. Jeff said meeting new people is the most rewarding part of the business.

“Robin likes working with kids and seeing them having fun, while I enjoy chatting with people and finding out where they are from while they wait in line,” he said. "I watched families in the gaming trailer, laughing and just having a great time. Yesterday I had a little kid riding in a go-cart on the passenger side and every time he went by he would wave and smile. That is neat." 

Keeping the carts, the slides and the facility in top shape takes a lot of time, Robin said.

Jeff also works a full time job as a vice president of an insurance company. When he is gone, sometimes Robin is left to run the business, he said.

 “This is the first summer I have had to start the slides and things on my own,” Robin said.

“Sometimes she calls me when I am out of town and asks questions but she is getting good at it,” Jeff said. 

Duane and Dixie have fond memories of three decades of ownership.

"The most memorable thing to me was the help," Duane said. "We’ve had many kids that worked for us and every one of them did a great job, accepted responsibility and became friends. I am also very proud of how they learned all the safety rules and did their best to keep our customers safe.”

In 33 years of operation, there has only been one minor injury claim, Duane said.

One event stands out in their memory, when they were named North Platte's business of the year.

On June 16, visitors Bobbie Miller and her children enjoyed some slick track racing.

"The best part about Cody Go-Karts is that it is located halfway between our home and Omaha.” Miller said. “We can stop here and take a break and have a good time,” she said.

Elyshia Landes and daughter Alexis enjoyed the slides.

“We live in Julesburg and come quite often with church groups,” Landes said. 

Felix and Joann Ewald of Arizona stopped on a journey across the county with grandkids Natalie and Samantha. All four raced on the figure 8 track.

“We loved it, this is such a nice clean facility,” Joann said. “The price was low enough that we all could afford to enjoy the ride.”

Bridget Haneborg of North Platte brought her daughter Khloe to the park to celebrate her fifth birthday. Khloe said she liked the white slide the best.

The Gaedke family intends to keep providing a place where families enjoy safe fun at a reasonable price.

“I am proud of how my dad took care of this place,” Jeff said. “All the trees and landscaping make it a great place to visit, picnic and enjoy good times.”

They are open daily through the Labor Day weekend, Aug. 30, 31 and Sept. 1.

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 8/3/2014
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