With the start of school just days away, we have a last-minute item to add to your summer bucket list.
Take the kiddos Saturday to Oldsmar's Tower Lake, where the Tampa Bay Water Ski Show Team will have Fun, Fun, Fun till their daddy takes their water skis away.
This week, they're throwing a beach-party-themed show packed with daredevil tricks, synchronized ballet lines, elegant ensembles, comedy routines, and the true crowd pleaser — the four-tier pyramid.
Emcee Steve Sacone will be decked out in his Beach Boys best while sound master Vickie Wilmouth will spin beach party tunes during the show that lasts about an hour.
The performances are free (donations accepted) and run Saturdays at 6 p.m. through Oct. 22. Newly minted skiers — those not quite ready for prime time — perform at a 5:30 p.m. pre-show.
Each week brings a new theme. Mark your calendars for the Beatles tribute show slated for Aug. 27, the Patriot Day tribute show on Sept. 10, and two add-on holiday shows featuring Elf on Nov. 26.
Lauren Henry, 26, began skiing when she was 4 and became a professional skier at Cypress Gardens in her late teens.
She now works as a registered nurse at Shands Hospital in Gainesville, but makes a trip from her Hawthorne home every other weekend to ski with the Oldsmar-based team.
"I love it," she said. "We spend so much time together at practices, shows and during the holidays, it's like one big family. My sister and boyfriend ski on the team; we have multiple couples who have met on the team, got married, had kids and now those kids ski, too."
About half of the approximate 100 members perform in the shows. Others find support positions as boat drivers, costume designers, cooks, photographers, script writers and such. Team members include doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, military, mechanics, hair dressers and dog trainers.
One member, Mike Atherton, a triple amputee from a 2009 boating accident, is still skiing using specialized equipment.
Though this is an amateur ski team, many of the members have skied or currently ski professionally at places like SeaWorld, Legoland, the Wisconsin Dells waterpark and Holiday Park in Germany.
The group is organized as a nonprofit, but paid performances help offset expenses. They'll perform wherever there is a body of water — at festivals and weddings, political rallies and company picnics.
They also ski in competitions and shows around the nation as well as places like China, England, Ireland and Spain. They have won the Southern Regional Show Ski Tournament Championships 13 times in the past 14 years.
Three members — Nick Lyman, Karli Pickney and Joe Sawaska — are on the U.S.A. Water Ski Show Team, which will be representing the United States in the World Water Ski Show Tournament held in Wisconsin in September.
Originally known as the Tampa Bay Ski Bees, the team was formed in the 1950s. After a couple of name changes, they became the Tampa Bay Water Ski Show Team in 1991.
Through the decades, a loyal fan base has always showed up each week to cheer and applaud for the skiers. They come out each Saturday night, sit in the bleachers or stretch out on blankets and let the good times roll.
"The first time you come you're a newbie," Henry said. "When you come back, you are officially one of our groupies."