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Great Falls Swim & Tennis Hosts Fourth of July Party

Sheri Landfair and her lifeguards throw one of the most anticipated and underrated parties of the summer.

A bird’s eye view of the Great Falls Swim & Tennis pool on the busiest day of the year.

A bird’s eye view of the Great Falls Swim & Tennis pool on the busiest day of the year. Andrew Miner

The Great Falls Swim & Tennis club celebrated America’s 237th birthday this past Thursday for the Fourth of July. On what has increasingly become the biggest event on the pool’s calendar over the past decade, patrons and lifeguards celebrated together for the 41st consecutive time.

During a week that had scattered thunderstorms plastered all over various kinds of weather maps on differing weather apps, the sun prevailed on the most patriotic day of the year. On a sweltering 90-degree afternoon, the pool’s 81 degree felt icy-cold.

The heat was a non-factor in stopping this party, however, which was operated and run by World Pool Service Business Manager Sheri Landfair. She and her staff of 15 lifeguards were able to accommodate a near over-capacity crowd. There was a guard at every station serving cotton candy, popcorn, snow cones, watermelon and even beer out of a makeshift bar manned by Alex Williams. There was also a moon bounce on the green beach lawn for the kids as a DJ blasted music and monitored games throughout the day.

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Grillmaster Denny Sisson mans the hot dogs for the party; the club went through nearly 500 dogs.

FOR THE GUARDS, many will attest to the fact that there is never a dull moment when working with Landfair, especially on the fourth. With so much chaos on the biggest party of the year, it’s imperative for the staff to have a maximum of four guards up in the chairs surrounding the pool’s perimeter. Sometimes guards have to walk around the pool’s edge in order to provide extra eyes. Needless to say, this holiday is meet with some dread from the guards as they are forced to tell patrons “there are no chairs” or suggest, “I need a five hour energy in this grape snow cone.” With all the food floating about, the worst has to be telling patrons for the umpteenth time to keep that under the pavilion or on the grass.

With that said, there is more fun that outweighs any sort of bad with the games and community that allies itself with the day’s festivities. A fan favorite is the greased watermelon game where a Crisco covered watermelon is thrown into the deep end and two teams attempt to move the slick watermelon to the other side and up on the pool deck. The children played boys vs. girls and then two all male adult teams entered the water when no women stepped up to play.

There was also a 200-meter relay race between the adults and the lifeguards during one of the mandatory breaks when one has to be over 18 to remain in the pool. With the kids on the sides cheering the adults on for an upset, the guards took great pleasure in annihilating whatever little competition they faced.

THE EIGHT-MAN TEAM of Luke, Skylar and Gabe Fowler, Eric Lee, Sarah Romer, Andrew Miner, James Cutler and Ryan Natal crushed a pathetic attempt by the parents in root to victory. Of course, the latter is a colligate swimmer for William & Mary.

Landfair must have been proud. Cutting a watermelon in the snack bar (the pool seemed to have an endless supply of them) she commented on how she “runs all our parties like this now because everybody loves the setup and it’s not too expensive for the club.” She gushed about the way her lifeguards worked together at last year’s party, when the pool had been without power for an entire week before regaining electricity the night before the fourth.

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Lifeguard James Cutler (front) prepares to launch a game of greased watermelon in the deep end. Then he and Eric Lee (back) will guard the game from the diving boards.

“I think last year was more fun and a little better because of how everyone worked together after the derecho,” she said. Then she hustled off to serve the fruit to the guests. On a day when the city decided not to have fireworks, Landfair and her guards provided all the fireworks they would need.