Hundreds turn up for River Dance as Water Festival winds down

pdonohue@beaufortgazette.comJuly 20, 2012 

Jeremy Siegel, left, and Steve McClune, right, along with Brian Hansell and Jeff Mullins, background, race down Bay Street while Matt Zimniewica throws leis to the crowd Friday evening during the 57th Annual Beaufort Water Festival Bed Race.

SARAH WELLIVER, STAFF PHOTO

Dozens of people stopped Friday night near the intersection of Charles and Bay streets downtown and looked toward the sky, some holding their cell phones aloft to capture a picture of Mother Nature gracing one of the Lowcountry's biggest annual events.

A rainbow arched high in the sky over Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park as hundreds of revelers enjoyed one of the final nights of the 57th annual Beaufort Water Festival, a sign many took as a good omen.

"That's got to be great luck for everyone here tonight," said Tonya Avery of Beaufort. "I mean, what are the odds? A huge rainbow right over the park and all of downtown. How perfect."

Hundreds filed into the park at about 8 p.m. for the festival's River Dance, an 18 and older function formerly known as the Street Dance that featured performances by the Beaufort band Shark Rodeo and The Design, a glam pop quartet from Durham, N.C.

Storms earlier in the day gave way to a beautiful sunset and a cool breeze Friday night, conditions that were as appreciated by festivalgoers as the rainbow that painted the skies above the park.

"When people ask me why I love living in Beaufort, this is all the proof you need," said Rick Thomas of Beaufort. "A night like tonight is what makes it all worthwhile."

The festival continues today with a parade through the streets of Beaufort beginning at 10 a.m.

Hope you didn't miss: The Bed Race.

One by one, teams of five raced down a half-mile stretch of Bay Street between Harrington and Newcastle streets, a course that was lined with spectators armed with water guns who doused the racers as they ran past.

Race rules stipulate that each team must consist of four runners who push the bed -- or in most cases a hospital gurney -- and one rider, all of whom must be older than 16. The teams are encouraged to jazz up their gurneys by adding decorative flair.

A team of Marines from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort won the race just as a storm began to wash over downtown Beaufort.

Better not miss: The Commodore's Ball.

The Water Festival puts on the glitz tonight for the annual Commodore's Ball in Waterfront Park.

Tickets for the event are $10.

Gates open at 7 p.m. and the ball begins at 8 p.m., according to organizers.

Volunteer of the day: Charlotte Gonzalez, protocol director.

Events organizers say Charlotte Gonzalez does a little bit of everything at the Water Festival.

Gonzalez, 51, an employee at XRDi in Beaufort, is the festival's protocol director, making sure that local dignitaries get invitations to the event's opening ceremony but that's not all she does.

She cooks for the festival's nightly entertainment and does just about anything else festival coordinators need her to do.

Gonzalez has been volunteering with the festival for the last seven years.

Socially speaking: "On the way to Beaufort. So excited about this weekend. #waterfestival #partyin" By b r o o k e, via Twitter.

To see what others are saying about the Beaufort Water Festival on social media, go to www.beaufortgazette.com/waterfestival.

Related content

  1. Beaufort Gazette's Water Festival page
  2. Official Beaufort Water Festival page
  3. The Beaufort Gazette's story on Storify, a roundup of Water Festival news on social media and elsewhere around the Web

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