Aqua Jays contribute to the communities
Janesville's Rock Aqua Jays water ski team has been performing on the Rock River for 50 years.
JANESVILLE Free, family friendly entertainment has become a disappearing commodity in many cities and towns across the country.
That is exactly the kind of entertainment the Rock Aqua Jays provide for Janesville, said Aqua Jays President Joel Shapiro.
“Today, more than ever, it’s very important that there be alternatives to spending a fortune to entertain your family,” Shapiro said. “Having an option to do something is great. You can get your family out to a public park, maybe have a picnic and just spend some time together.”
The Aqua Jays shows can be watched multiple times throughout the summer, Shapiro said, because the shows are get more complex and the skiers improve throughout the season.
The Aqua Jays strive to positively display the community. The team brings tourists into the city and goes out on the road, performing across the country and even internationally.
“We are a leading tourism destination in Janesville, and we understand that visitors will get an impression of our city by the places they visit and the people they encounter,” Shapiro said.
In addition to providing free entertainment, the Aqua Jays have hosted the city’s Fourth of July celebration, “Independence Day on the Rock,” the last two years.
The ski group stepped up in 2010 and raised money to put on the show after the local Odd Fellows chapter and the now defunct Janesville Jaycees failed to do so.
“Its only natural that we would do it seeing as we are at the park all summer long, and we have a track record of hosting successful events,” Shapiro said.
Shapiro said it was all about keeping an event alive that many people in the community have been going to for most of their lives. He was unsure what the Aqua Jays will do with the event in the future, but he said the club has seen a positive turnout the last two years.
“I do know it’s about the tradition of having fireworks on Traxler Park on July 4th,” Shapiro said.
The Aqua Jays also set up a haunted house for young adults and teenagers every fall.
The tradition began in the 1980s as a haunted hayride and moved into a haunted barn in 2000. In 2004, the Aqua Jays moved the event into a haunted house. Proceeds help fund the Aqua Jays throughout the year.
“It is very popular,” Shapiro said. “It’s by far our biggest fundraiser.”