While the cast and crew of Piranha 3D were filming their gorefest in Arizona’s Lake Havasu City last summer, the production was an undoubted boon to the local economy. “It took a bite out of the recession, you could say,” jokes Douglas C. Traub, president of the Lake Havasu City Convention and Visitors Bureau.
But thanks to the advance publicity surrounding the film, which is out tomorrow, it seems some visitors to the area are now so worried about being eaten by killer fish they are declining to dip even their little toe into the man-made Lake Havasu. “Two of our hoteliers have had people say something about being afraid of going into the water because of the piranhas,” says Traub. “Even with the assurances of our most astute hotel staff, they still have thumbed their noses at the thought of wading into our pearly blue waters.”
Those waters are just one of the attractions to be found in Lake Havasu City. With the assistance of Traub and piranha expert David M. Schleser, we’ve put together a list of 10 reasons to visit the place. No. 1? There are no piranhas!!!
1. There are no piranhas!!!
“Anybody that has any experience with a freshwater body in the United States realizes there’s absolutely no threat from piranhas,” says Traub. David M. Schleser, author of Piranhas—A Complete Pet Owner’s Manual, agrees. “They’re a tropical species,” he says. “They’re natural range is from northern South America as far south as the weather is warm enough—southern Brazil, parts of Argentina. They can’t take water under 60 degrees.”
“That’s one thing we’ve become known for,” says Traub. “This is a major venue for college students over spring break. The kids come here and blow off some steam. Our culture is very tolerant to the types of things that youth like to do.”
3. But—and we really can’t stress this enough—there’s no piranhas!!!
“We have not had a piranha sighting,” reconfirms Traub.
4. It’s the personal watercraft capital of the world
“That is correct,” says Traub. “Robert McCullough, who created the ‘McCullough chain saw’ and also had an outboard division, based his company here. He could test his personal watercraft out on the lake. Today, our manufacturing base here is the custom performance speedboat.”
5. But it’s not the getting-eaten-by-piranhas capital of the world!!!
“We’re still waiting for the first person to get killed by a piranha,” explains Traub. “It may be a long time coming.”
6. It has London Bridge
The British landmark was bought by Robert McCullough in the late ’60s and reconstructed in Lake Havasu City. “It’s one of the major tourist attractions in the state of Arizona,” says Traub.
7. But it does not have any piranhas (and even if it did, they probably wouldn’t eat anyone)!!!
“I wouldn’t go so far as to say that a piranha has never killed a person,” admits Schleser. “You never say never. But there’s over 30 species, give or take a few. Of that 30, there’s only three that have ever been implicated in being potentially dangerous to man. And those are the three red-bellied piranhas. The vast majority of piranha species feed on the fins and scales of other fish, not even warm-blooded prey. You’ll pass villages in the Amazon basin, and we know there are piranhas of several species there, and the kids are swimming, and they don’t get attacked. Even the ducks swimming in the water won’t get attacked.”
8. Lake Havasu is stunningly beautiful
“It’s spectacular,” says Traub. “Lake Havasu is a gigantic lake encompassing many hundreds of acres. So here you are, with these pristine mountains shooting up out of the desert, and there in the middle is this beautiful pool. If you live here—and it’s a very inexpensive place to live—you can have a house up on the mountain, where you’re surrounded by a million acres of vacant public land, and you look down upon this pristine blue jewel. It’s something else.”
9. And free of piranhas!!!
Although visitors may soon be able to buy piranha burgers. “It’s been discussed in the restaurant community,” says Traub. “The thought is that a piranha burger might be a novelty that would catch on. There’s even been talk of a logo that would be somebody holding a burger up to their lips and the fish would be snapping at the lips of the person eating the burger.”
10. Did we mention there are not piranhas???
Really? Not even one? “Not yet,” says Traub.
More on Piranha:
Fishy Business: The behind-the-scenes story of the ‘Piranha’ movies (Part I)
Fishy Business: The behind-the-scenes story of the ‘Piranha’ movies (Part II)
‘Piranha 3D’ for Best Picture?: The cast make their case in this ‘Funny or Die’ clip