Finlay Park beach party continues despite Columbia weather

ccope@thestate.comJuly 6, 2013 

— Columbia residents felt the sand between their toes in Finlay Park on Saturday.

The sand just happened to be wet.

The city of Columbia hosted the Capital City Beach Party at Finlay Park to celebrate the holiday weekend — and off-and-on rain showers simulated the weather at the coast.

“We’re getting the same weather the beach is, so we’ll deal with it the same way they do,” said Jeff Caton, director of parks and recreation for the city.

The rain almost sent Columbia resident Monica Jones back home, but as she and her kids were headed to the car it stopped, so she decided to come back and enjoy the festivities.

After the first rain shower, Jones sat under a tree holding a leopard-print umbrella. Water dripped between the branches and onto Jones and her kids below.

The rain did not stop Jones’ 9-year-old son, Kentrell Jones, from continuing to take part in the activities, he said. He played Cornhole in the rain, which made the beanbags wet and the board slippery, he said.

The weather prevented the planned hot air balloon rides from occurring, but it did not stop the party.

People played volleyball, children ran around in bathing suits, some played in the sand, others played badminton, all while loud beach music blared across the park.

Bob Cline of Chesterfiield set up a booth of inflatable toys and said he would also be selling glow necklaces and other light-up items when it got dark.

Cline’s 12-year-old grandson said his favorite toy they sold was a light-up sword.

Across the park, children played in the spray of a homemade whale with a water hose shooting water through its spout.

The creator of the whale was Joan Sorensen, special programs coordinator for the city’s parks and recreation department. She used pool noodles to form the whale, black PVC material to cover it, and she painted on eyes and a tongue.

West Columbia couple Steve and Anita Button set up chairs just outside of the sand area and enjoyed the sunshine.

They planned to sit there until the fireworks in the evening and watch the rest of the activities unfold, including a shagging demonstration and a performance by The O’Kaysions.

A lot of people can’t get to the beach, so the city brought the beach to the people, Sorensen said.

Charenee Stephens, an officer with the Columbia Police Department, was working the event for security measures, but she said it was more fun than regular duty.

“I’m really just watching everybody have a good time,” she said.

Reach Cope at (803) 771-8657.

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