JANESVILLE

After a year off because of the pandemic, the Rock Aqua Jays water ski team is back in action this summer with flips, spins and pyramids on the water.

“We’re excited, very excited,” said Brian Cullen, an announcer at the Aqua Jays shows. “Deep down we really missed doing the shows, and the fact that we’re going to be on this year is awesome. We’re looking forward to having some fun.”

The first show of the season will be at 7 p.m. Sunday. Additional shows will follow at 7 p.m. Sundays and Wednesdays through Labor Day at Traxler Park.

On Saturday,June 26, the Aqua Jays will host the Mercury Invite, which Cullen said will include a full day of tournaments and family-friendly shows with skiers speeding along the Rock River.

This year’s theme is “Toy Story,” featuring many new and exciting acts and some skiers in costume, said Duane Snow, a past president and longtime member of the Aqua Jays organization.

“The jumpers are doing an outstanding job. Everybody is practicing hard,” Snow said. “The skiers look good. You wouldn’t really know that we did not perform last year.”

Snow added that the Aqua Jays plan to add a brand new boat to their fleet later this season.

The Aqua Jays will be running raffles with individual tickets for $10 each or packs of three tickets sold for $25. The grand prize is a choice between a jet ski or a four-wheeler with a snow plow. Additional cash prizes will also be offered as part of the raffle.

Performances are free to the general public, but free-will donations are appreciated.

Cullen said the skiers will be engaging with the audience as usual. As the water skiers glide past the stands, team members will seek audience participation in cheering for their favorite characters.

“We’re trying to give the audience a really good ski show with a light theme around it. If we have fun, the audience picks up on it and it makes it a good experience for everybody,” Cullen said.

At the June 26 invitational, Cullen said water skiers from around the Midwest will compete in a full team tournament, a swivel tournament and nighttime jump competition.

The competition is intense, but the camaraderie among the skiers is inspiring, Cullen said.

“The jumping they do is extraordinary. It takes a lot of courage to do that. When somebody does something unique, everybody is excited,” Cullen said.

Snow said the Rock Aqua Jays have multiple national champions on the team. There are about 90 skiers involved, a number of whom are returning from school for the summer to participate.

The Aqua Jays have been busy practicing every week to gear up for the season.

“It’s very exciting to watch. Some of these girls can do incredible things on a swivel ski. It’s very interesting and fun to watch,” Snow said.

Traxler Park can seat roughly 400 people in the stands with enough space to allow for social distancing, Snow said, and hand sanitizing stations will be available.

“There’s plenty of room to spread out so you feel safe while you’re there,” Snow said.

Cullen said he is happy to be with fans again, adding that people travel from around southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois to see the shows.

Snow said the Aqua Jays shows also provide an economic boost for Janesville when visitors spend money in the area while shows and tournaments are happening.

“It’s a testament to water ski shows and water ski clubs as many of these members stick around for years. It’s great family entertainment. The kids grow up with a real sense of accomplishment. It’ll be good to put on a show in front of people again,” Snow said.

For more information, visit rockaquajays.com.

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