Paddlers put to the water aboard anything and most everything

Eight-year-old Greyson Allen may have finished last in the second heat of the Crazy Craft races on July 3, but his determination won loud applause from the crowd at the City Dock.

Though he paddled hard on his pool float "Sting Ray," he had trouble steering away from one side of the dock, taking a long time just to reach the halfway point, where police officer Garrett Gablehouse and state wildlife trooper Alisha Seward readily assisted Greyson from the water as spectators cheered his determined effort.

Contestants in the annual Fourth of July event could take to the water in anything that floats - that isn't actually a boat.

Starting on one end of the summer float, the participants raced to the other side and back, paddling whatever craft they had created for the event. Some were simple inflatable air mattresses, pool floats or rafts, while others were more complex creations, lashing together floatable materials like plastic buoys or Styrofoam to structures like plywood boards, plastic tubs or containers.

Youngsters Jude Johnson and Sawyer Scheib lashed plastic buoys to a plastic storage container and used green plastic shovels as makeshift paddles.

One imaginative craft in the first race was piloted by Titan Churchill, 10, with an assist from his older brother, 2023 high school grad Randy Churchill III. The vessel was patterned after a catamaran and used a combination of wooden boards and plywood, attached with duct tape and glue to sealed plastic buckets and foam noodles underneath to keep it afloat. A toy sword with sparkling lights rose from its bow, while an orange lifesaver bore the creation's name "Viking Slayer." Their mother, Celsee Churchill, said it took them a few hours a day for several days to put it together. "Titan's an awesome helper."

It didn't take long for 13-year-old Delilah Clark and Griffey Angerman and Claire Rooney, both 12, to decide on their idea, an inflatable portable dock. "About 20 minutes," Delilah said. "Not very long, but we think it's going to win. Maybe."

Appropriately dubbed "USS Last Minute," Delilah and Claire provided propulsion for the makeshift craft with leg kicks from the rear while Griffey steered and paddled with an oar at the front. "We thought it was going to be canceled, actually," Delilah said. "I wasn't going to do it, but then, last night, we were just like, 'Hey! We should do it! That will be fun!'"

In the first heat with 11 entries for kids under 15, Haley Gablehouse, 10, and Annika Gillen, 11, won first place with their paddleboard named "American Craft;" Marcus and Brook Ostrander came in second with "The Better Boat;" and Dane Richard took third place aboard "It Works."

For the second heat designated simply as "Flotation," where both kids and adults competed with 10 unorthodox floatable vessels, Isaac Richard and Radley Powers came in first with "The Rad Raft." Cooper Powers and his fiancée Krosby placed second with their unnamed inflatable raft, while Silah Purviance took third place with "Titanic."

 

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