LAKE SINCLAIR -- For this holiday weekend, the sun came down -- and very little rain.

That meant it was the perfect time to catch a ride on what Philip Defayette, of Stockbridge, dubbed "an air conditioned taxi" -- an open pontoon boat with, yes, an air conditioner he'd loaned to his father, James Cox, a couple years ago for his Putnam County boathouse. It was a quick seven-minute boat ride or a 45-minute car ride, making the boat the most economical -- and probably enjoyable way -- to retrieve his property. But after pulling the air conditioner down the dock with a dolly, he said the Fourth of July weekend was far from work-filled.

"We went tubin'. We went fishin'," Defayette explained, before noting his daughter Jade had caught six catfish and lost two.

And so it went at Lake Sinclair, where a three-countywide lake met up with a long holiday weekend. By Sunday afternoon, there were still plenty of smiles, but some of them looked a bit weary.

One of the exceptions was Walter Reynolds, sent to the lake by his boss at Z97.7 FM to run the "decorate your boat" contest the station has sponsored for about 15 years. Reynolds said he never knows what to expect; some years three boats get decorated, and others year might have had a couple dozen entries. One time there was a boat decorated like a pirate ship, with a working cannon Reynolds recalls fondly.

This year, about half a dozen boats were entered. Reynolds showed off the pictures while sipping a beverage as American flags fluttered behind him.

"These guys," he said, holding up his Samsung smartphone, "had Lady Liberty there in tin foil."

The contest was held at Duke's, a lakefront establishment that includes a restaurant and a bar.

"It's been busy," said Bob Butch, whose parents have had the property about 35 years. "A lot of folks in and out, enjoying the food and the music."

Not far away, at the privately owned Little River Park, business at the boat ramp and campground was steady. An employee, Michael Tangren, said the boat ramp had to order more fuel. On Sunday, he was misting an insecticide on mounds of trash that couldn't be collected on a holiday weekend.

Some celebrants arrived Wednesday, he said, and the fun wasn't interrupted.

"This is the first Fourth of July it hasn't rained," Tangren said.

Dianna Guldbjerg was checking out Lake Sinclair, just a few months after she'd moved to Byron from New Jersey. She said the holiday weekend was a nice time to bring her dogs, a recent adoptee named Callie and a much bigger dog, Bella. With a big smile, she brought caramel brownies to a reporter and a photographer who stopped by.

Guldbjerg's sister, Arlene Cowles, of Bonaire, gave visitors a tour of the campground in a golf cart she'd borrowed from her boss. Cowles said she'd enjoyed most of the weekend.

"It is very relaxing," she said, "until you dump off a Jet Ski."

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.