Sensational sinkings: Cardboard Boat Race provides soggy fun at John Sevier Pool

Krystian Rolle and Alexis Bradby managed to stay dry in their “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” boat. The team won the Best Book Boat prize.

Photo by Jolanda Jansma

Krystian Rolle and Alexis Bradby managed to stay dry in their “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” boat. The team won the Best Book Boat prize.

Fire Storm took the competitors by storm. Tiger Stripe proved that even big cats aren’t that fond of water, and Thor needed a little more divine intervention.

The boats that filled John Sevier Pool for the Blount County Public Library’s Cardboard Boat Race were all creative and helped explore the Summer Reading Program theme. Some just didn’t last as long on the water as others.

Sponsored by the Blount County Public Library and Maryville-Alcoa-Blount County Parks and Recreation, the second annual Cardboard Boat Race finally commenced at the John Sevier Swimming Pool at 7:55 p.m. on Friday, July 15, following multiple delays due to thunder. For safety, pool rules require that all people have to be out of the pool for 30 minutes following any thunder, so Friday evening’s continual thunder for several hours held off the start of the race.

Before the starting whistle finally blew to start the first heat, one boat sank. Two boats also capsized before ever getting away from the starting line.

But Cade Ernsberger, a first-time paddler who was a last minute substitute for a competitor who became ill, powered Fire Storm to the finish line in 55 seconds, winning the Speedy Gonzales. Alexis Bradby and Krystian Rolle won the Best Depiction of a Literary Theme for their “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” boat. Hunter O’Hern in “Vikings” received the Titanic Award for the most spectacular sinking, capsizing even before the first whistle sounded to start the heat.

Megan and Emily Boring won the Ship-Shape trophy for the most creative design and best use of cardboard in their vessel, “Warriors,” which was shaped like a giant orange striped cat. The Team Spirit Award went to the mother-daughter team of Teresa and Cara Garner for their fast pursuit of Ernsberger. Their craft was entitled, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”

The Cardboard Queen trophy for the prettiest boat was presented to Rachel Garner in “Zinnia’s Flower Garden.” Rachel’s vessel was covered with flowers made in multiple colors of duct tape. Garner’s mother commented that they started making that boat last December during Christmas vacation. All boats depicted the race theme of “Cruise the World with Books,” designed around a theme from a material currently in the permanent collection at the Blount County Public Library.

Constructed from only four allowed materials - cardboard, duct tape, glue and latex paint. Boats could have a maximum size of 8 feet by 3 feet. About half of the boats that entered prior to the event didn’t show up because of the rain.

Along with library staff, numerous volunteers from the Friends of the Blount County Public Library helped staff the various positions needed to run the race. The Friends group also provided funds to purchase the trophies and other materials for the contest.

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