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Fun floats: Participants big, little enjoy cardboard regatta in DeKalb

July 29, 2018

DeKALB – Owen Robison of Cortland was hoping for a “spectacular sinking” as he raced across Hopkins Pool in DeKalb during the third annual Cardboard Regatta on Saturday afternoon.

However, things didn’t go as planned because Owen and his first mate, Ethan Bergeson, also 13, took second place with their boat, “Ye Olden Submersible.”

“I’m a little disappointed that we came in second because I wanted to sink,” said Owen, who will be a freshman at Cornerstone Christian Academy. “We didn’t expect to last that long. I guess we made our boat a little too well.”

“Ye Olden Submersible” was one of 11 entries in the event, in which children and adults create a boat out of just cardboard and duct tape, and compete not only for first place, but for the “Titanic Award,” given to the boat with the best sinking, and “Jewel of the Fleet” or “Pride of the Pool,” for the most creative designs.

Jackie Owensby, aquatics director at the DeKalb Park District, said she thinks several people look forward to it every year because it’s something fun that families can do together.

“It’s really engaging and a lot of fun. A lot of people like to be a part of [the regatta] and are proud of what they made,” she explained.

This year’s winner, Caleb Vosika of Sycamore, won the race two years ago and came in second place last year. The 10-year-old said he was hoping to reclaim his title this weekend.

“We won! I’m so excited because we worked really hard, and it is fun to race,” Caleb said.

Last year, Caleb came in second place to Cassie Lexa and Megan King of DeKalb. Cassie and Megan were attempting to defend their title on Saturday, and were once again using the same “Moana”-themed boat.

“It’s a little wrinkled on the bottom but all we had to do was add a little reinforcement,” Cassie said about the boat. “We hoped to retain our title, but now I think we’ll retire the boat.”

Jack Bauer, 9, of DeKalb, recruited his best friend, Johnathon Holtz, also 9, to build a Mario-themed boat. The two Jefferson Elementary School fourth-graders were excited to enter the race for the first time, and despite sinking, they had fun.

“I wanted to try it out,” Jack said. “I watched it last year and it looked like fun. I love Mario so we thought that would be a good theme. We worked on it all day [Friday].”

DeKalb resident George Jaros and his son, Sam, 9, didn’t fare too well in the pool, but won the “Jewel of the Fleet” prize for the most creative design, which was an elaborate pirate theme. Jaros said he wanted to participate because it was a good project for him and his son.

“We just built a basic boat and then decided to make it a pirate ship because [Sam] likes pirates. It was either pirates or a dragon boat,” Jaros said.

Chad Gillis of DeKalb worked on his boat with his 13-year-old daughter, Bailey and niece, Lexi Rattin. Gillis said his daughter sketched the design, and he helped cut and tape the cardboard.

“We worked on it together and it took two days,” He said. “We had a lot of fun building this. We had so much cardboard in the garage that our neighbors thought we were moving.”

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