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Dave Olson, Published July 26 2010

Good vibrations: Weather smiles on Fargo beach party

Ahhh.

Sun. Sand. Surf.

Well, two out of three wasn’t bad as the “Ultimate Summer Beach Party” got rolling in a south Fargo neighborhood Sunday morning, courtesy of The Weather Channel.

A crew from the meteorologically obsessed cable channel blew into town Saturday and set up a California vibe by plopping four dump-truck loads of sand and about 3,000 gallons of water in front of Steve Waldner’s home.

Waldner caught The Weather Channel’s attention when he submitted a video application to win the channel’s “Ultimate Summer Beach Party” contest.

In his video, Waldner donned a stocking cap, swim trunks, mittens and scuba gear to poke fun at the area’s propensity for flooding and cold winters.

The Weather Channel selected Waldner over 150 other contestants and, true to its word, transformed the street outside his home in the 3200 block of 45th Avenue South into a tropical playground.

There was a sand sculpture, a lagoon with paddle boats, a giant blow-up waterslide, palm trees and a tiki bar.

A live band provided the music.

“It’s just going without a hitch, right down to the weather. I think The Weather Channel’s got some pull,” said Waldner, who was wearing shades to protect his eyes from Sunday morning’s intense sun.

Waldner said The Weather Channel provided everything.

His job was to send invitations to neighbors, family and friends, though he said others stopped by just for a look as The Weather Channel broadcast live from the scene for a good part of Sunday morning.

Weather Channel spokesman Chris Day said organizers planned food and beverages for about 200 people.

Sunday’s event was The Weather Channel’s first beach party.

It hosted a polar opposite event in December, when it invited people to compete for a guaranteed White Christmas.

“We ended up taking snow to the Florida Keys on Christmas morning. This was our next natural step,” Day said.

Sunday morning’s party gave the country a picture of Fargo it normally doesn’t get to see, said Mayor Dennis Walaker.

“Usually, it’s something negative,” said Walaker, who has become well-known for the high-profile roles he assumes during flood flights.

“This shows we do have great weather; we do have four seasons,” said Walaker, who was so impressed by the goings on Sunday he brought along two grandsons, ages 9 and 6.

Craig Rennich, who lives across the street from Waldner and his family, was also enjoying the day.

“It’s been a good time,” said Rennich, who admitted to a moment of doubt when The Weather Channel appeared in the neighborhood.

“When they pulled up, they said, “We’re going to park our trees in your driveway. Is that OK?’

“I’m, like, sure, I don’t know what that means. As you can see now, it’s the coconut climb activity,” Rennich said, referring to a stand of very tall artificial palm trees.

Among the young people enjoying the party were Waldner’s son, Matt, 15, and daughter, Rachel, 13.

“They’re loving it,” Waldner said, emphasizing that the party couldn’t have gone better.

“The surprising thing is how efficiently they did this,” he said. “They’ve had no problem.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555