Cardboard Boats Dominate Chester River for Annual Race

By Abby Wargo
Student Life Editor

This year marks the 11th annual Cardboard Boat Race held by the Center for Environment and Society at Washington College during Fall Family Weekend at the Waterfront Festival.

Students and community members came together with homemade cardboard boats and raced them in the Chester River.

According to Outreach and Intern Coordinator of CES Jamie Frees, the  event typically looks like, “a bunch of boats. Some float, some don’t,” she said.

“People were actually very creative with their boats,” sophomore and participant Diana Sanchez said. “There was one that was a goose, and one was inspired by ‘Finding Nemo.’”

The festival has done its part to encourage crowds.

“Huge crowds gather along the banks of the Chester River and the pavilion cheering on their favorite team,” CES Director Dr. John Seidel said.

Sanchez agreed. She said, “The whole front side of the boat house pavilion was pretty full.”

There is a competitive edge to the boat race: $650 cash prizes were awarded to the winning boats. Prices are budgeted in specifically for the event, according to Frees.

There are eight different awards for the cardboard boat race. The obvious include first, second, and third place. People’s Choice, Best Theme and Costumes, Best Design and Construction, Most Team Spirit, and Most Spectacular Sinking were also awards up for the taking, according to Frees.

Sanchez, whose team came in second place after the CES team, won $100.

Frees said the boat race started as  a part of the Waterfront Festival, inspired by Dr. Seidel.

“The goal of the event was to encourage students to come to the waterfront. The cardboard boat race was part of the festival to encourage student participation,” she said.

The waterfront is often touted as one of WC’s greatest strengths location-wise, and CES is “one of the three signature centers on campus that compliments what students are learning in the classroom, and provides real world experiences for students through programs and internships,” Frees said. “This year the 11th annual cardboard boat race took place during the Get to Know CES event which retains the goal of getting students to the waterfront. This year’s sole focus was to promote CES programs in a fun atmosphere with trivia, prizes and giveaways.”

The race’s longevity is due in part to recurring contenders. Frees herself has been involved since she was a student at WC.

“I raced as a sophomore in 2009 and came in second place. I raced again my senior year in 2011 in the same boat (new theme) and won,” she said. “Since I started working for CES, this is the third cardboard boat race that I have organized.”

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