The Lions Club Tube Rental began its summer season last weekend. Above, rivergoers use Lions Club tubes to float down the San Marcos River on Saturday. Daily Record photo by Nick Castillo
Lions Club Tube Rental season begins
A familiar sight of summer can now be seen on the San Marcos River — yellow Lions Club tubes.
The Lions Club Tube Rental began its season last weekend. Although COVID-19 still lingers, General Manager Mark Jalufka expects more people to visit the tube rental this summer.
“We expect more business,” he said. “I think people are getting a lot more comfortable with COVID. And those people that didn’t come out last year are going to be missing it after two years of not going tubing.”
The Lions Club Tube Rental began in the 1970s out of a cattle truck with portable air compressor and recycled automotive tubes, the San Marcos Lions Club says. The rental began with 20-40 tubes and has expanded to around 800-850 tubes. The tube rental is the main fundraising arm for the Lions Club with 99.9% of proceeds going back to the community, Jalufka said.
“There’s a few other little bitty events but I’d say that 99.9% of the money that the club as a whole earns over the course of the year comes from the tube rental,” Jalufka said. “Now, we’re a nonprofit, we give that money away. So the more money that we make at the tube rental, the more money we have to give back into the community and almost every single bit of it goes back into the community.”
Lions Club has used funds generated from the tube rental for scholarships and donations. Community organizations from around San Marcos as well as Hays, Caldwell and Guadalupe counties have received funding from the Lions Club through the tube rental, including the San Marcos River Foundation, Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center, Hays County Food Bank, San Marcos Summer in the Park, CASA of Central Texas, Gary Job Corps, Texas Lions Camp, and Habitat for Humanity among many more.
As the 2022 season gets started, Jalufka said prices to rent a tube have increased slightly. A single tube rental is $18 with local area discounts available for those living in San Marcos, Martindale, Reedville/Maxwell, Buda, Wimberley, Lockhart, Luling, Manchaca, Prairie Lea and Fentress during weekdays.
Jalufka said Lions Club Tube Rental is always working to improve its services.
“I firmly believe that a business that doesn’t get better, gets worse, and so I think they’ll find that they’ll get better service than they have in the past,” Jalufka said. “It’s certainly better service than four or five years ago. They’ll see an even better selection of items for sale in the tubing store. We’ve got a couple of new buses. We haven’t gotten them painted, adorned with our tube rentals logo and everything yet, but that’ll come with time. The main thing is that they’re newer and cleaner and nicer than some of the other buses that we had.”
Jalufka also added that new faces will also be seen around the tube rental this summer.
“We hire mainly high school and college students except for the drivers, and some of the drivers are even graduate students,” Jalufka said. “But college students and high school students have a way of graduating and starting careers, or going off to college, so we have a decent amount of turnover. So new faces, mainly new faces. But one of the reasons we opened in May without doing any advertising is that we want a few slow weekends, or slower weekends, to let those new employees get comfortable with their job before we get busy. And we’re about to get busy … Next weekend will be very busy — that’s Memorial Day weekend.”
The Lions Club Tube Rental is open 10 a.m.-7 p.m. only on the weekends through May 31. Beginning June 1 and stretching until Aug. 22, the tube rental will be open seven days a week from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. — hours are extended until 8 p.m. on Thursdays. The tube rental reverts back to weekend openings from Aug. 23-Sept. 26.
With more tubers expected in the next few weeks, Jalufka reminds everyone to book ahead of time at tubesanmarcos.com.
“We need people to reserve and pay for their tubes in advance,” Jalufka said. “We found that [with tube reservations] we were able to give so much better service because we didn’t have these giant rushes in the middle of the day. So we’re asking everybody to reserve online in advance, and it will make their experience nicer and easier and a little bit cheaper than if they come walking up to reserve it at the actual tubing store.” ncastillo