Attendees sparse for Janesville's July Fourth event
JANESVILLE Brothers Jacob and Drew Cole had a little advice for those considering paddling down a river in triple-digit heat.
“Bring water, definitely,” said Jacob, 13. “It’s tough. It gets worse as it goes on.”
“You’ve got to work out, keep yourself in shape,” said Drew, 11.
Perhaps their method of transportation had something to do with their tough paddle from the boat launch to the Aqua Jays stage in Traxler Park.
The Coles and their dad, Kevin, along with Joel Wray took a few moments to “meet with the press” after finishing the Anything That Floats race at Independence Day on the Rock on Wednesday afternoon.
With the temperature at 104 by mid-afternoon, according to the National Weather Service, only three entries competed in the event. Spectator turnout was sparse for the race and Taste of Janesville food fair/beer tent.
The Cole-Wray float consisted of four barrels—one seat for each—in a welded frame, catamaran style, with a hammock in the middle and topped with an American flag. A sail broke at the start of the race, Wray said.
The sailors paddled with four snow shovels—Wray’s idea to be “more eventful, festive,” he said.
While they used a portion of their vessel in last year’s race, this year’s first-place finisher, Matt Wilson, 27, cobbled his float together Wednesday morning in about two hours.
He competed last year and had grand plans for a bicycle that pedaled, but time got the best of him. He fashioned four barrels, an assortment of wood pieces and a lot of duct tape into something that floated.
“It made it all the way to the finish line, and then it broke apart,” said Wilson, a member of the Aqua Jays.
While contestants enjoyed the dip in the water, others around the Taste of Janesville were thankful for the breeze. The heat didn’t seem to bother Kathy Thompson of Janesville much, as she sat in a lawn chair in the shade wearing a floral dress and wet paper towel around her forehead and neck.
“I’ve lived in Florida. Not recently, but heat is heat,” she explained. She came out mainly for the Aqua Jays water ski show that evening.
The southern exposure also allowed Dan Seehaver and Renee Stephenson to enjoy the day. The couple just moved back to the area after living the last six years in Arkansas.
“This is nothing,” Seehaver said. “This heat here ain’t nothing.”
“I think it’s nice out,” Stephenson said.
Temperatures for them were regularly at 100 degrees without the heat index. They’ve been out biking and walking during the heat wave while “everyone else is melting,” she said. They came down to see the show and “get out of the house.”
“Lots of water, and stay in the shade,” were Seehaver’s words of advice.
“And hats,” Stephenson added.
Both wore white tank tops and recommended light-colored clothing.
“Wear as little as possible,” she said, “but don’t put your business all out there.”