By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor
It was a gorgeous day on Sunday when spectators gathered to watch the “Live United Regatta” held at Maple Lake in Bridgeport this year. This, the third year for the cardboard boat race, was an opportunity for non-profits, businesses, schools and families to draw on their creativity and assemble a vessel for the rowing competition while also showing support for the United Way of Harrison County’s 2017 campaign.
Tina Kopp, Executive Director of the United Way of Harrison County, said there was an excellent turnout of spectators and a total of 19 boats that raced.
“It is so awesome to see participation from local schools that took part in the Junior Division,” said Tina Kopp, United Way of Harrison County Executive Director. “They exhibit school spirit AND community spirit at the same time. It is encouraging when youth begin to take part early in their lives, doing good deeds that make such a difference in the community … and they can have such a good time doing it!”
Lincoln High School actually had five teams entered in the competition, three of which took home trophies! The Lincoln teams were Junior and Senior students of Mrs. Hostuttler’s physics class that began working on their regatta projects on the second day of school. The students used class time, after school hours as well as weekend hours in the school greenhouse to construct their boats.
Mrs. Hostuttler gave them some initial instructions and a few ideas and then left them on their own to be resourceful. With donated cardboard and duct tape, the students came up with their own themes and original design ideas, while also considering buoyancy.
Taking first place in the Junior Division was Lincoln’s “Banana Boat”, which resembled a banana split, and keeping with that similarity, the three rowing the boat wore brown, pink and white tee-shirts to represent chocolate, strawberry and vanilla ice cream flavors!
Another Lincoln team – “Apollo 18” – had the second fastest finishing time in the Junior Division. This boat raced last year, taking first place, and two of its members from last year (graduates Bob Tate and Alec Loss) returned to try to defend that title.
Another Lincoln entry – “Soggy Buns” – won the People’s Choice award, voted on by spectators.
Kopp noted that some participants also dressed in costume to coordinate with the theme of their boats.
“One entry (Seas The Day) drew a lot of attention,” she stated. “The two men entering this boat actually wore grass skirts and leis and made a palm tree and an ‘active’ volcano! Each year, entries seem to get a little more creative and that is good for attendance too because people are excited to see some of the ingenious ideas that come out of this event.”
The “Team Spirit” award went to a couple dressed as Vikings.
“It is a great way to kick off our 2017 fundraising campaign,” Kopp added. “It is a great environment for families and everyone seems to have a good time.”
Concessions of hot dogs, pulled pork, nachos, etc. were provided by My Mother’s Daughter, and Reuben Perdue emceed the event, also providing music such as the theme from Love Boat and Gilligan’s Island.
Kopp said that $1,124 was raised, which was more than last year’s event.
TWO United Way events took place on the same day. Three local cyclists – Donnie Kopp, Paul Howe and Bill McGahan – started the Bike United event this year. They began the race on Sunday at the arches in St. Louis, MO and are riding Rt. 50 back to Clarksburg – a 600-mile trek. They are scheduled to arrive at the Courthouse Plaza in Clarksburg this Saturday around 4 p.m.
A United Way staff member is recording their cycling trip and posting it on Facebook on the Bike United page if folks want to keep track of their ride.
“They have raised over $3,000 thus far for United Way of Harrison County!” Tina reported. “We hope to make this another annual event.”
A welcome home party is slated on the Plaza this Saturday to welcome home the cyclists and thank them for their efforts in supporting United Way fundraising.
Watch as totals climb during this campaign season. The United Way of Harrison County’s goal this year is to raise $850,000 to support its 20 agencies.