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Riverfest attendees keep it cool

WINDOM -- As the sun reached higher into the sky, and the day started heating up, one group at the Arts in the Park event during Riverfest knew how to keep cool -- and raise money doing it.

Windom Area High School social studies teacher Bryan Joyce and a group of students planning to attend the 2008 presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., raised money during the festival by giving people a chance to throw water balloons at them for a price.

The group also had a few other games to play, such as a bean bag toss and plinko. They are hoping to raise all the funds for their trip.

"We have about 20 people signed up to go," Joyce explained. "Each student needs to raise $800, and (they) already paid a $250 deposit."

The money is due by Oct. 1, so the group will fit in several other fundraisers, including a spaghetti feed and selling coupon books for Herberger Community Days.

When he presented the idea of the trip to his students during the last school year, he was pleased with the enthusiastic response.

"A lot of these kids have never known anything but a Bush administration," he stated. "There are a lot of changes going on, and they know they would be witnessing history."

While in Washington, D.C., the group will visit several sites, including the Holocaust Museum, and stay in a hotel across the street from the Arlington National Cemetery.

When asked why seeing the inauguration was important to them, their answers were as varied as the students themselves.

"It sounds like a lot of fun," Taylor Bartelt said. "I love traveling, and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity."

"We are going to see a big part of history," Katie Axford added.

"Everyone has something they remember from their high school days when they are 80," Callie Syverson explained. "This is going to be that memory."

Joyce is hoping the trip is the catalyst that lights a fire in the students to keep them politically active throughout their lives.

"Lots of kids want to be politically active; they just don't know where to go to do it," he said. "They are never presented an opportunity, and with their busy lives, don't go out and look."

Joyce looks at this trip as that opportunity.

"I'm going to use the inauguration as the opportunity to build citizens of the future," he stated. "And this is a great group of kids -- they are very energetic and enthusiastic."

While those kids braced themselves for the next drenching from a water balloon, elsewhere in the town square in Windom, crafters were set up, selling everything from pottery to personalized mouse pads.

The beautiful weather lent itself to a day filled with turtle races, music, a parade and plenty of laughter.