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Photo essay: Austin’s 'Party Island' on Lady Bird Lake

'Party Island' on Lady Bird Lake, seen from above on Aug.8. (Jordan Vonderhaar)

Kayaks, tubes and paddle boards jammed side by side have appeared on Lady Bird Lake throughout the summer, despite local orders prohibiting gatherings and advising social distancing. The crowd of mostly young people at a shallow sandbar where Barton Creek flows into the lake has come to be known by locals as "Party Island."


The draw to Lady Bird Lake's 82-degree waters is understandable. Austin temperatures have soared to 100 degrees or higher for 24 days this month alone, according to AccuWeather, with no break in the forecast.

Mayor Steve Adler's July 14 order to "stay home, mask and otherwise be safe" remains in force, as does a 1964 city ordinance that bans swimming in Lady Bird Lake. Yet the partying continues into this weekend.

Friends and strangers congregate in Lady Bird Lake in what is now being called "Party Island" on Aug 8. (Jordan Vonderhaar)

"Party Island" on Lady Bird Lake, seen from above. (Jordan Vonderhaar)

(Jordan Vonderhaar)

People beat the heat by paddle boarding and kayaking in the waters of Lady Bird Lake. (Jordan Vonderhaar)

(Jordan Vonderhaar)

A crowd gathers Aug. 21 in the lake, despite prohibitions on gatherings of more than 10 people and local ordinances banning swimming in the lake. (Jordan Vonderhaar)

(Jordan Vonderhaar)

A woman paddle boards on Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin. (Jordan Vonderhaar)

(Jordan Vonderhaar)

People jump from the Barton Creek pedestrian bridge. (Jordan Vonderhaar)

(Jordan Vonderhaar)

Paddle boarders and kayakers enter the lake waters at the Austin High Boat launch. (Jordan Vonderhaar)

(Jordan Vonderhaar)

Paddlers make their way around Lady Bird Lake. (Jordan Vonderhaar)

(Jordan Vonderhaar)

A man and his dog give a young woman a ride from the Austin High Boat launch out to Party Island on Lady Bird Lake. (Jordan Vonderhaar)

(Jordan Vonderhaar)

Various paddlers enter the water at Lou Neff Point—the closest point to the newly formed "Party Island"—on Lady Bird Lake. (Jordan Vonderhaar)

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