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Lake Geneva Chiropractic

Tryout for top spot

Dan Sepe didn't make the final cut as a mailboat jumper this summer.

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June 15, 2011 | 11:34 AM
It didn't start out well — one girl ended up in the water and four times jumpers watched from the pier they had just leaped on as the boat sailed by without them.

Unseasonably chilly temperatures made for a rough go of it for some young adults as they hopped on and off Walworth II during the annual U.S. Mailboat jumper tryouts last Thursday morning.

It was a treacherous morning and early afternoon for the new jumpers but the veterans were solid most of the day, which included jumps onto four different piers and more than two hours on the lake. Six of the nine who tried out for one of the most visible summer jobs in the Lake Geneva area will serve as Mailboat tour jumpers. Three of the newcomers who didn't make it were told to come back and try out again next year.

The day was one for the experienced jumpers as Elle Vogt, Anna Bartz, Conor McCarter, Oliver Pringle and Ryan Hall all were selected for the season. Jacob Blada is the only newcomer to make it and also was the first non-Gage employee to become a Mailboat jumper, according to Gage Cruise Line General Manager Harold Friestad.

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But, even for the newbies, as the day went on, things got better. Eventually newcomer Hannah Geldermann dried off, Lake Geneva's Dan Sepe made it back onto the boat on his final jump and Emily Creek made softer landings back on the rail of the Mailboat.

Now, the six chosen will have one of the most prestigious summer jobs in the area. Each day starting at 10 a.m., as the 60-ton boat maneuvers around the lake close to the shoreline, jumpers leap from the boat to the pier and back delivering mail to about 65 lakefront homes. In between the deliveries, the jumper must also read from a script, which describes the homes and history of the Geneva Lake area. This is all while a load of passengers watches the action for the 2-1/2hour tour.

On Thursday, except for the jumpers, judges Sturg Taggart and Linda Frame and several news media personnel, the boat was far from packed.

That doesn't mean the day wasn't without its 'oohs' and 'aahs,' thrills and spills, cheering, clapping, joking and camaraderie.

Taggart and Frame clapped after a successful jump and encouraged the newcomers after a failed attempt.

"Good job," Taggart and Frame yelled on a few occasions after a successful jump and return to the mailboat.

At the same time, the veteran jumpers groaned as Geldermann fell off the pier and into the lake, but later giggled as they watched the video and looked at pictures of her spill. The young jumpers also waved at Sepe after he missed the return leap onto the boat for the second time on the day.

Even veteran jumper Hall, Lake Geneva, struggled on an early jump.

"It was a little embarrassing to start off the morning missing the boat," Hall said after the tryout was complete. "Then I did all right. I guess I just had to dust off the cleats and get back into the swing of things."

For Hall, it will be his third year as a jumper and the teen knows he is part of a long history.

The mailboat carries on a tradition that dates back to the 1870s.

"I wanted to do this because I saw the interaction with the Mailboat crowd and the homeowners on the pier," Hall said. "It is just unreal and one of the most unique jobs you can have in the area."

Creek, who jumped for the first time last Thursday, said she felt differently.

"When you are getting ready to jump off, it is really scary," she said.

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Walworth County