By Randy Arrington
LURAY, Aug. 6 — It was a beautiful day for boating…for those who could stay afloat. While the weather presented no issues on the lake, their unproven water-going vessels provided a challenge that not all were able to meet.
A total of 18 brave souls walked the beach of Lake Arrowhead on Saturday morning, unsure of their future. More than 100 looked on in anticipation. Spread across the sand were nine boats — the fruits of their labor — some taking several hours over several days to construct, and others…much less.
“We probably won’t make it 10 feet,” one pessimistic father told his three young boys. “But we’re gonna give it a try.”
Put together with a little duct tape and covered in spray paint…the entries at the inaugural “Float Your Boat” cardboard boat regatta included vessels christened as the “SS Minnow”, the “Banana Boat”, “Mr. Duck”, “Fish Bait” and “The Best We Could Do.”
The new fundraiser for the Page Alliance for Community Action awarded $50 prizes for winners in each of three heats, an overall winner and a few specialty categories.
Jonna McFadden walked around a thick cardboard box marked “Watermelons” sitting on two cardboard-tube pontoons with an anxious look.
“I did this to help PACA,” she said, “…but I saw the watermelon box come in at work one day and I said ‘That could be the perfect boat…and I can be the Lunch Lady’.”
McFadden embraced her upcoming role in the cafeteria of Springfield Elementary and became the Adam Sandler character portrayed by the late Chris Farley in “Lunch Lady Land” from NBC’s Saturday Night Live.
The SS Sloppy Joe set off from the shore of Lake Arrowhead Saturday morning with great hopes, but ultimately came in third in its heat. The Lunch Lady and her crew would have finished last, if it had not been for poor “Banana Boat”…which hit trouble just a few feet from shore — earning the two-man crew the “Titanic Award” for the most spectacular sink.
For her efforts, The Lunch Lady earned the “Pride of the Regatta” award…and promptly donated the funds awarded back to the non-profit organization.
“Mr. Duck” won its heat and took home the “Team Spirit Award” for a tough battle in the water that saw the four crew members fighting just to sit up in the boat, much less paddle. The “SS Minnow” also won its heat race, and the “SS Jesse J” won “Best Costume.”
Logan Atkins of Luray spent seven hours over three days with his dad building his boat “Lake Arrowhead” and the hard work payed off. Atkins won the first heat and the championship race…by a lot. His secret? Three layers of cardboard on the bottom, and two on the sides — all spray-painted to help seal the cardboard. Rules were strict about boat construction, but “Lake Arrowhead” passed the judges’ inspection and ruled the day.
“So, tell us about the boat,” emcee Liz Lewis asked Robert Jenkins of Luray about his boat prior to the race.
“Well, it’s some Amazon boxes,” Robert replied.
“What do you think about this boat?” Lewis asked Jenkin’s 5-year-old daughter Lark.
“It’s cardboard built,” she answered…before quickly following up with…”I love pizza, and everyone loves watermelon and chocolate.”
The Jenkins family came out to support the local event and have a little fun.
“We really enjoy supporting all of PACA’s fundraisers…it’s always a good time,” Rebecca Jenkins said. “It’s a fun time for our kids and a great way to spend our Saturday morning…and we like what PACA does in the community.”
PACA is a “non-profit coalition of agencies, parents, youth and concerned citizens,” who’s main goal is to “promote healthy life choices for the youth and families in Page County,” according to the organization’s website.
PACA officials were not able to state how much the event raised, but a spokesperson said that even if the amount was small, fundraising wasn’t the only goal of the day.
“It’s exciting to see members of the community coming out and using one of our town’s natural resources, and being creative, and having fun, and supporting PACA…what more could you ask for?” said Carrie Campbell, who coordinates PACA’s youth organization YPACA.
Some cardboard boats on display at the regatta that did not race were created in a summer camp held by Page County Public Schools. Students made them as teams.
All proceeds from the event went to benefit PACA, and the Town of Luray Parks and Recreation Department allowed free swimming the rest of the day at Lake Arrowhead beach.
“We appreciate the Town of Luray,” Campbell said. “They have been great partners.”
The father who predicted prior to the race that his young boys’ boat wouldn’t make it 10 feet, ended up dragging its pieces across the finish line. All three boys — and dad — did so with huge smiles on their face, even taking time to pose for pictures with their soaked, torn and barely discernible cardboard creation.
The dad gave his boys hi-fives and exclaimed, “We made it more than 10 feet.”
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See more PHOTOS from the cardboard boat regatta in our Photo Gallery on our Home page.