Living in the 'burbs, it's hard to get to the beach for a good game of volleyball. Waterside stretches of sandy playing surface aren't exactly the Midwest's strong suit. But tucked near the Lazy River and Crayfish Canal at Otter Cove Aquatic Park is a sand volleyball court worthy of any ace or assist dedicated volleyball players can throw down.

The court is celebrating its second year this summer by hosting a 2-hour "Happy Hour" program every Monday night from 4 to 6 PM beginning Monday, June 5 and running through August 28. Players ages 16 and older can come out and join in a quick pick-up game, then stay on to enjoy the pool facilities and grab something good to eat at The Dive, the aquatic park's concession stand.

"Otter Cove isn't just for families or swimmers," said Jennifer Bruggeman, Assistant Superintendent of Recreation. "Adults of all ages, even non-swimmers, can enjoy our space." With enough interest, Bruggeman hopes these Monday night "Happy Hours" will eventually turn into a regularly-scheduled evening adult league for next summer.

Though "Happy Hour" types of programs are usually associated with "TGIF" events at restaurants or cocktail lounges, the Otter Cove Sand Volleyball Happy Hour celebrates the beginning of the week with a real burst of energy.

"We chose Mondays as a way for people to start their week off with fun and exercise before work or summer school takes them off in different directions," said Bruggeman. Scheduled to fall within twilight admission hours, players can enjoy sand volleyball and pool admission for only $6.

And while the program may be called "Happy Hour," no alcohol is served. Instead, players are encouraged to enjoy the variety menu of food at The Dive - from Home Run Inn pizza to Eisenberg hot dogs and jumbo pretzels. Candy, milk shakes, fruit smoothies and a delicious array of Hershey ice cream products help make burning off all those calories on the sand court worthwhile.

The sand volleyball court at Otter Cove is one of three such facilities within the St. Charles Park District. Sand courts can also be found at the East Side Sports Complex and Primrose Farm Park. The popularity of these sand courts also was the impetus behind the park district's addition of a Youth Sand Volleyball League to the roster of summer activities for the first time this year. Open to children ages 8 to 12, the league is supervised by the staff of Serve City Athletics.

"The first two weeks, participants will learn the basic skills and be guided into teams," said Steve Gard, Otter Cove Aquatics and Youth Programs Supervisor. "Then the last six weeks, there will be actual league times for dedicated teams of 6 players each." The youth league runs on Thursdays nights from June 15 to August 3 from 5:30 to 8:30 at Otter Cove.

For more information about the Sand Volleyball court and youth league at Otter Cove, contact Steve Gard at 630-513-4391.