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Rainy day fun

Gloomy weather can't dampen the fun for state park visitors on Labor Day

Flashes of lightning danced inside towering thunderheads that hung threateningly in a churning blue and purple sky. It was Labor Day – a day that millions of Americans eagerly anticipate as a day of fun and relaxation, cookouts, smoky grills and fire pits, ketchup seeping through soggy hamburger buns, smiling faces, and sunshine.

Labor Day is America’s final celebration of summer, but Monday morning, it seemed like the sunny season was already long gone, as crisp autumn temperatures and rain storms drove festivities indoors.

The Isle du Bois unit of Ray Roberts Lake State Park suffered from a low turnout as the threat of rain caused hundreds of people to reconsider spending their holiday outdoors,

People just didn’t come out today,” said Mark Stewart, the Isle du Bois park manager. “On a regular holiday, we would’ve been turning people away by about noon, but of course this year, we didn’t even get close to hitting capacity.”

Labor Day is usually the third biggest holiday at the lake, right behind July Fourth and Memorial Day. And because the fiscal year resets in September, the holiday weekend typically gives Isle du Bois a strong financial start to the new year. Stewart said this is the first time since the flooding in 2015 the park has had a bad weather holiday to this degree.

“It can be a little tough on revenue, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before,” he said. “Saturday and Sunday, we still had a good-sized crowd. It was like a normal Labor Day weekend. Today’s just been extremely slow.”

Despite the gloomy forecast, some 100-odd revelers still enjoyed a relaxing beach day with friends and family, and the brave among them decided to take a dip in the lake. The chilly temperatures might have caused some to shiver and reach for warm towels, but others seemed unaffected by their goosebumps and chattering teeth as they cheerfully tossed around beachballs and engaged in pool noodle death matches.

Clouds of smoke rose over various campsites as families grilled up their favorite holiday treats. For the Guevara family, it was chicken, beef and roasted corn.

“We like the lake and don’t mind the rain,” said Flor Guevara, laughing and appraising an ear of corn out of the corner of her eye. “It’s always a good time, and the rain hasn’t been so bad … although they could probably use more awnings out here!”

Other beachgoers actually preferred the rain to the sunshine, like 16-year old Jeremy Zangenberg and his little sister Joy. “We like the rain!” Jeremy said, “Actually, it’s been a lot cooler. It’s been cloudy all day, so it hasn’t been hot. The rain made it more fun for us.”

When it wasn’t raining, it was just like any other Labor Day at the lake, albeit a little less crowded. And when the sky did open up and the rain poured down, smiles could be seen and screams of laughter could be heard all around as people slopped messily through the mud, balancing drinks in their hands and tugging along sandy children to save their cookout. Not everybody went swimming, but everyone got wet.

“It’s a lot of fun out here,” Stewart said. “Even as we move into the fall, we’re here, we’re open and y’all are welcome to come out and enjoy the park.”

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