Fourth festivities: Display not dampened

CNJ staff photo: Gabriel Monte Jared Vander Dussen, 13, stands at the bow of his team’s boat Wednesday during the Dairy Boat Race, one of several Fourth of July activities held at Greene Acres Park.

By Tony Gutierrez: CNJ staff writer

Thirteen-year-old Jared Vander Dussen stood majestically at the stern of the boat like Captain Jack Sparrow as he and his brothers’ nitrogen-powered aluminum boat raced across Greene Acres Park.

Jared, his five brothers and their father represented Rajen Dairy in the inaugural Dairy Boat Race. A pirate flag flew over their boat and their clothes were tattered.

“We decided to put skulls on our boat so we could be scary,” said 20-year-old Daniel Vander Dussen.

The Vander Dussens placed third in the race, sponsored by local dairies.

Blackridge Dairy’s team members snapped their oars in when they hit the water competing for fifth place.

“The oars snapped and water came into the boat,” said Jarod Wilhite, part of the team.

As water seeped into their boat, the two rowboats got tangled with Wilhite trying to remove the plug from his opponents’ boat.

“Sabotage, we had to win, there’s no other way,” he joked.

The team representing Cross Country Dairy won the championship race.

Throughout the park, members of Clovis High School’s football team sold bottles of water while cheerleaders painted faces.

“I love being around kids and getting to interact with the community,” said senior-to-be Ashley Southard, who turned 17 on Wednesday.

As evening approached, members of the community anticipated the fireworks show.

Carl Hendrix, who is stationed at Cannon Air Force Base, brought his 5-year-old daughter, Sophie, to the park.

“This is my first time,” said Hendrix, who has been in the area for three years. “That’s all she talked about.”

The Clovis Community Choir was originally scheduled to perform at 8:30 p.m. before the fireworks, but were delayed because of a constant drizzle for about an hour.

Stephen Adams and Roxanne Davis, both stationed at Cannon, were among the many who fired their own fireworks during the delay.

“We bought them for later, but there’s nothing right now so we’re doing this right now,” Davis said as she lit a Roman candle over the lake.

The pair bought nearly 200 fireworks.

When the rain subsided, the 100-member choir took the stage and sang various patriotic songs. As they sang the national anthem, fireworks shot over the lake.

Scott Henry, a member of the choir, said he enjoyed singing because music is his life. He and his family enjoyed the show.

“This is the closest I’ve ever been to watching it,” said Henry’s 10-year-old son, Bailey.