Couple's philosophy: Have dance floor, will travel ... to Beaufort Water Festival

July 18, 2011 

  • Officials plan to close streets and the Beaufort River during some Beaufort Water Festival events this week.

    On Friday, Bay Street will be closed from Harrington to Charles streets at 4:30 p.m. and reopened at the end of the bed races, which should be no later than 6 p.m.

    On Saturday, Boundary, Bladen, Carteret and Bay streets will be closed from 9 a.m. until about noon for the grand parade. Parade entrants will begin lining up at 8 a.m.

    Also on Saturday, the Beaufort River will be closed from 1 to 4 p.m. during the air show. No one will be allowed on vessels anchored or moored south of a line extending west from the marina fuel dock. Organizers ask boaters in the affected area to transport everyone on board by dinghy to the day dock, move their boat from the area or make other arrangements.

As he waited in line to enter the Beaufort Water Festival on Monday evening, Tommy O'Brien stood beside his secret weapon.

Shrouded in a bag made of striped beach towels, O'Brien's personal, homemade dance floor rested on an orange metal dolly, ready to be deployed.

O'Brien, 55, a lifelong regular at the festival, loves to shag. About five years ago, though, he decided he'd had enough of waking up in pain after a night of dancing on the grass and bricks of Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park.

"I got tired of hurting the next day so bad," he said.

So the auto mechanic designed and built the hinged plywood floor that helps him slide with ease on the bowling shoes he brings with him. When he's not using the floor, he folds it up and stores it in his shed.

After rolling his handiwork past the ticket takers Monday, O'Brien and his wife, Sheri, made a beeline for their usual spot near the stage.

After O'Brien and a friend hammered nails into the hinges to connect the floor's panels, O'Brien took a seat and waited for the music to start.

A few minutes before the band Deas-Guyz started belting out the sounds of the festival's popular Motown Monday, the O'Briens took the floor for a spin and determined it wouldn't need any of the baby powder they had brought in case it wasn't smooth enough.

The couple, both teachers in the Beaufort Shag Club, were prepared to dance the night away.

The O'Briens usually attend at least four days of the festival, but Motown Monday's the night they shimmy the most, Sheri O'Brien said.

"We'll dance until we get too hot and too tired," she said.

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