EAU CLAIRE, Wisc. (WEAU) - Thousands celebrated Independence Day Wednesday, but not everyone had the day off of work; many battled the heat to keep 4th of July traditions going.
For Ryan Carlson, that meant cooking up around 1,500 brats, burgers, and hot dogs for fans of the Eau Claire Express in 98 degree heat.
"If there was no shade, I think I'd be dead by now," Carlson said.
He and dozens of others came out to Carson Park early Wednesday to prepare for one of their biggest games of the year.
"It's gonna be a challenge to keep things cold and keep everyone hydrated and you go through a lot of ice too, so it's just something we have to be aware of," team general manager Andy Neborak said before Wednesday's game.
Also hoping to capitalize on the Carson Park crowds was the Eau Claire Aris amateur league soccer team.
Manager Greg Saliaras said the turf field adds another 10 degrees, but the team was still excited to play on July 4.
"It's very easy to get tired, to get your mind wandering, it's tough ... Hopefully a lot of fans in the stands enjoying the game, and that they'll join us next time too," Saliaras said.
Despite the heat, being a part of the holiday celebration is something the Express and Aris said they're proud of and hope to continue.
"It's a good feeling to make people happy and fill 'em up," Carlson said.
"It's big for us and it's nice for us to kind of be able to showcase what we do to the whole Chippewa Valley," Neborak said.
"Independence day is probably one of the most important holidays ... I grew up in Greece ... I'm a citizen now, (gaining Independence) was part of my citizenship test, so it's nice to see a lot of people going out there and celebrating the Independence day for the country," Saliaras said.
Wednesday was the first time the Aris team played at the Carson Park football field, but Saliaras said he hopes it becomes a new holiday tradition.