July 24, 2006 - Palapas and Pop-Ups
On Friday, the Santa Barbara Junior Lifeguard program hosted the California Regional Lifeguard Championships at East Beach. It was reported that over 3,000 participants aged 9 to 18 showed up, hatted and sunscreened for the annual event.
Junior Lifeguard programs from all over the state bring their fastest and tannest to compete in ocean swimming, beach running, swimming & running, paddling, flags, and relays.
Competitors are split up into four age groups – C (youngest), B, A, and AA (oldest). It's easy to tell what group each child is from, because before the games begin the letters are written on their shoulders in thick black marker.
Some of the teams participating this year were Santa Barbara, Refugio, UCSB, Carpinteria, Ventura, Los Angeles, Huntington Beach, Oceanside, Newport Beach, Capitola, Long Beach, Avila Beach, and Surf City. A Mexican palapa serves as the communication hub of the competition. And each team sets up their own hub with one or more pop-up tents, often branded with the name of their team.
In case you are not palapa savvy, they are structures with thatched roofs made of palm fronds.
Friday was Beach Day for the dedicated staff of edhat.com. We shirked our Shirt Patrol Friday (SPF) duties for the week,
put on our swim trunks, and drove the green car down to East Beach. Ed assigned us the task of counting the pop-up tents. But, we decided to stay and soak up some rays and the competitive spirit as well.
We also wanted to hear people say the word ‘palapa'. It's one of those words that could never be said in an angry tone.
There's a lot of talk these days about over-weight kids who do nothing but play video games. Edhat has contributed to that discussion by pointing out that kids are often conspicuously absent from the streets in area neighborhoods. But there was no question on Friday that there are some kids getting out and getting healthy. The kids at the beach seemed downright happy to be playing games that did not involve game controllers and video screens.
In the lifeguard competitions, the goal is to finish fast enough to grab a Popsicle stick. The sticks are given out in order, and the number on the stick determines the placing.
At around noon, the dedicated staff counted 72 pop-up tents and one palapa at East Beach. There were a lot more umbrellas, but we didn't count them. We also didn't count smiling children, proud parents with cameras, and enthusiastic, supportive lifeguard instructors and volunteers who helped make the day a good one.
In yesterday's contest, Strasburg7 got the first Popsicle stick with an exact guess of 72 pop-ups. Strasburg wins an Edhat t-shirt. Next Friday, the dedicated staff probably won't be so lucky as to be assigned duties at the beach. We will be delivering t-shirts to Strasburg and others whom we have recently neglected.
We took some pictures on Friday at East Beach.
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