PEORIA — The younger generation has all but taken over the IVY Club’s annual cardboard boat races, a benefit for the Alzheimer’s Association that has been held every Labor Day for the last 13 years.
This year was only the second time a children’s race has been held before the adult race, and it’s proving to be very popular — six children participated, racing five boats through the IVY Club’s swimming pool. This year there were only two entries in the adult race, one of which foundered even before the starting shot was fired.
“That was a legitimate Titanic Award,” said race emcee Tim Ward as Leland Hank tried to get the sinking Try Canoe back to the dock while William Byerly jubilantly paddled the winning boat, Caddyshack, to the finish line.
The competition actually began several hours before the boats hit the water. Boat builders were judged not only on the worthiness of their craft, but also the cleverness — in most cases the silliness — of their creations.
“This was really fun to build,” said Linden Roberts, 6 (“and a half”), while showing off her Donut Dinghy. Linden and her family spent more than 20 hours building the boat from cardboard tubes supplied by Linden’s grandfather. The tubes were waterproofed with many layers of duct tape.
“We got the tape at the dollar store, so it was only a dollar,” said Linden. “I got some left over, so I’m going to build a doghouse next.”
After the boat was complete, Linden and her mother, Nicole Roberts, one of the race’s organizers, spent another day or so making six dozen doughnut-like cake pops to serve spectators before the race.
“Making those is like a two-day process,” said Linden, who chose the theme because her first-grade teacher at Peoria Christian School decorated her classroom with doughnuts to stress an important theme — “Do not stop reading.”
Linden wasn’t the only boat builder who got creative — IVY Club commodores past and present combined skills to create an elaborate pair of boats emulating the boat scene in the 1980 film “Caddyshack.” To complete the spoof, a faux fur gopher was repeatedly blown out of a little mound of dirt with the help of an air compressor during boat viewing.
“We have fun every year, and it goes for such a great cause,” said Ivy Club Commodore Mike Ford. “We’ve had a lot of members afflicted by this terrible disease, and 13 years ago we decided to do something about it.”
Over the years, the event has raised more than $30,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association, said Wendi Ramsay, who worked with Nicole Roberts to organize the event.
Though the little green and brown camouflage boat built by the Mohrman brothers was not the flashiest in the competition, it proved to be a winner. The boys’ grandparents, longtime IVY Club members Tim and Sue Ward, have lots of experience piloting boats (cardboard and otherwise), but Luke, 9, and Chase, 10, needed a lesson before they felt confident to take on the competition.
“We practiced in a kayak yesterday on the river,” said Chase shortly before the competition began. “My hope is to come in second place at least.”
His hope was surpassed. The Mohrman brothers won by a mile when several members of the competition capsized and others lagged behind.
The boys, who didn’t even get wet, beamed while posing for pictures as their mother looked on.
“They did good,” she said.
Leslie Renken can be reached at 686-3250 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter.com/LeslieRenken, and subscribe to her on Facebook.com/leslie.renken.