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In the first few days of operation, Itasca Sports owners Caren and Sam Smith launched boats on Fish Hook, Elbow, Belle Taine, Long and other area lakes. The pontoons can be rented for five hours or less, a full day or multiple days. (Jean Ruzicka / Enterprise)

Shutdown launches Itasca Sports expansion

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When the state shutdown closed Itasca State Park, the propellers for Itasca Sports' pontoon rental business came to a halt.

Momentarily.

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Sam and Caren Smith, who are second-generation owners of the family rental enterprise, put a business plan in place in 24 hours.

"Need a pontoon?" they asked via Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber e-mails.

And the wheels (holding pontoons) began to roll. Itasca Sports now offers mobile pontoon delivery.

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