Boat builders try to stay afloat in Addison

By Ann Piccininni
Daily Herald correspondent
Posted8/9/2017 11:58 AM

One of Alexander Hamilton's legacies was creation of the U.S. Coast Guard, which he founded on Aug. 4, 1790, as the Revenue Marine.

Today, the Coast Guard, one of the country's five armed services, is celebrated every Aug. 4 on National Coast Guard Day.


That observance won't go unnoticed in Addison, where the park district's Build-A-Boat Contest will pay homage from 11 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the Family Aquatic Center, 120 E. Oak St.

"We like to theme our events on national days," said Steve Muenz, recreation manager.

As part of the celebration, roughly 15 homemade cardboard boats, held together only with duct tape, will attempt to splash across the 50-meter L-shaped pool in a bid to be the quickest to complete the voyage in several different heats.

The rules of the contest are simple: boats must be made of nothing but cardboard and duct tape. They may be decorated with colored markers, but not with paint.

Motors are prohibited, but contestants can use canoe and kayak paddles to power their creations.

Park employees give the boats a pre-race inspection and assessment.

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"Before the race starts, we ask people to drop off the boats at 9:30 a.m. and we'll judge them," Muenz said.

Racers may register in advance or on-site on race day. The registration fee is $6 for residents and $8 for others.

Now in its third year, Muenz said the race usually produces some innovative ideas.

"Sometimes we'll have themed boats," he said. "Last year, we had some people who got really creative. There was one boat where it looked like a shark was coming out of the water and eating the person that was in the boat."

Not every boat is able to avoid the mistakes of the Titanic -- and dramatic sinkings are always a highlight.

"Some of them do stay afloat, some of them don't. Those are some of the best ones," Muenz said. "They struggle for 15 or 20 feet and then the boat starts falling apart."

Trophies will be awarded for fastest boat, first sinking, and best decorated boat, said Emily Silva, aquatics supervisor, but the real prize is bragging rights.

"It's a very laid-back event," Muenz said. "It's definitely a family-oriented event."

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