Every July 4, our town pool holds a local tradition. A group of child volunteers are split into a small number of teams. Each team is handed a whole watermelon that is covered in grease and instructed to put it in the deep end of the pool. In relay fashion, each team must push the grease-covered watermelon from one end of the pool to another. After the watermelons are pushed and the prizes are won, the watermelons are cut up, and everyone sinks their teeth into some grease-soaked, chlorinated watermelon that everyone in the pool had their hands on. Delicious.
The bizarre spectacle of the Greased Watermelon Race was one of the reasons why my family always went to the pool on Fourth of July; I’m sure I pushed a few greased watermelons around back in my day. Unfortunately, this was not the only activity that combined pool water and food. The entire shallow end has a “bobbing for apples” competition, and after that, everyone eats the apples, which have been sitting at the bottom of the pool for at least fifteen minutes. (These were not even the most ill-advised Fourth of July challenges, as the belly flop contest was recently suspended due to repeated injuries.) As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Greased Watermelon Race has been suspended this year. Hopefully, in thirty years, I’ll take my own kids to the pool, and we’ll laugh and cheer like the good old days as that slippery watermelon goes sliding on by.