Area residents cool off during hot Labor Day weekend
By ANGIE HAFLICH
With Labor Day weekend temperatures hovering around the 100-degree mark, many water-related activities were on the agenda for both locals and travelers to the area.
And others just took the three-day weekend as an opportunity to visit family.
Visitors to Lake Scott State Park enjoyed boating, fishing and swimming. Some park guests rented canoes, paddleboats and kayaks.
Regan Smith, who works in the rental shop, said this year's Labor Day weekend was slower than some years past.
"I think the blue algae scare a few weeks back sent some people elsewhere, and some just haven't been back," Smith said, adding that the water is now safe.
Near the swimming beach on Sunday, Agathe Lanet enjoyed the shade with her 1-year-old son, Barthelemy, while her husband, Flavian, and 3-year-old son, Constrent, swam. The Lanets are from France and currently reside at Fort Leavenworth. Agathe said the family is exploring this side of the state, which she described as nice and different.
"It's drier. But it's nice. It's simple," she said.
On Saturday night, she said, they went to a rodeo in Dodge City and were planning to stay at a bed and breakfast in Dighton on Sunday.
For Garden City's Heather Schlegel and friends, Labor Day weekend activities did not vary much from the norm. Every Saturday and Sunday, she invites people over to her home on Mary Street, where she has an outdoor pool in which walleyball games are played.
"Walleyball is a water volleyball that's 36 inches around, resembles a beach ball, but it's covered with material so that it doesn't fly crazy," Schlegel said.¬
Schlegel said that volleyball skills don't matter in walleyball because in order to hit the large-sized ball, one must use both hands.
"There's no bumping, setting, spiking or any of that," she said.
Her friend, Sally Guy, Garden City, said that she is not athletic whatsoever, but she can play.
"The more you play, the better you get," Guy said. "If you don't play, you have to be the ball retriever."
Frank Unger, Garden City, said that the activity is not of an overly competitive nature.
"It doesn't matter how good you are at volleyball. It's how good you are at having fun," Unger said.
Schlegel, who wears a black and white referee shirt and whistle around her neck, said that they sometimes play by more official volleyball-type rules, but for the most part, the only rule is to keep the ball in play, meaning players can hit it multiple times.
She uses her whistle to both stop and start the action, and has been hosting the makeshift sporting event for the past 12 years. She said that there are always a steady number of people who come to partake in the action.
"I'd say over 1,000 different people have been here over that 12 years, easily, because it's not only pool parties, we do fire pit and hot tub parties at different times of the year, too," Schlegel said.¬
There have been as many as 50 people there at once, she said.
"Because I used to do a big July Fourth walleyball and barbecue years in the past with my ex-husband, and I know we had 50 here at one time," she said. "In all that time, with all those people in and out, there has never been a fight. Even if they have issues outside of here, they leave them at the fence when they come here."
Unger, who has participated in walleyball for the past three years, said, "Either that or they resolve it while they're here."
Schlegel normally closes her pool over Labor Day weekend, but this year, she decided to keep it open as long as temperatures remain in the 90s.
For some people, like Lari Jones of Colorado Springs, Colo., Labor Day weekend was a time for her family to come to Garden City to visit relatives.
"We have family in Garden, but it's also a good midway point between Colorado and Emporia, where some other relatives traveled from," Jones said.
She said that it provided the chance for her children to reunite and play with their eastern Kansas cousins,
"We aren't able to get together very often, but whenever there is a three-day weekend, we try to meet in the middle so we can get together," she said.