Milk Carton Racers make big splash in East Portland Pond

Although we were disappointed that there weren’t any outer East Portland entries – take a look at the fun they had at this year’s event. And, start saving your milk cartons for next year’s event …

Planet Green, built and raced by the entire Lewis Elementary Softball Girls Team, try for a victory – but end up snagging in the pond’s filter screen.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
In its second year back after a long hiatus, the 2010 Portland Rose Festival Milk Carton Boat Races regained its stature as a premier event on Sunday, June 13.

“It’s a great event because it brings so many families out to the Westmoreland Casting Pond,” said Portland Park & Recreation South Services Manger Jeff Milkes. “Our Bureau couldn’t host this event alone; we’re glad that the Oregon Dairy Farmers got involved.”

About halfway through the event, Milkes walked the perimeter of the pond and counted about 3,600 people who came to watch, as 53 racers in home-built carton-craft raced across the freshly-refilled Casting Pond on a picture-perfect day.

Amber Lindsey, Public Relations Director for Koopman Ostbo  PR – and Dan Cox, race director, also Marketing and Communications Director for the Dairy Farmers of Oregon – officiate at the event.

Looking over the field of competitors, as well as the spectators, Dan Cox appeared pleased. He’s the event’s race director, and also the Marketing and Communications Director for the Dairy Farmers of Oregon. “We brought the races back last year, with some measure of success. It looks like it’s going to be a big success this year.”

About 40 teams pre-registered, Cox reported. “But, we’re registering a lot more people who just walked in with their boats today. As far as the total number goes, it’s a very fluid situation.” A total of 45 craft were participating, at last count.

Evan McClelland from Milwaukie drove the paddle boat “Dairy Air” around the pond during the Showboat Competition – and won first place!

In the new Showboat category, third place winner (left) “Happy Feet” is piloted by Dylan and second place winner “Baby Loaf” is paddled by Chelsea Hansen.

Most participants paddled their way across the water; but those in less pond-worthy craft ended up swimming – or walking – their boats to the finish line, to the cheers of a supportive crowd.

A father-and-son team, Tim and Evan McClelland from Milwaukie, took top honors for the day with their creation, “Dairy Air”, fashioned from milk cartons and plywood. They also took second place in the new Showboat category – based on looks, not speed – for their paddle-wheel driven craft. Not only was it judged attractive, it was swift. Dad Tim took second place in the Over-13-years-old Division, and son, Evan took the first place prize for speed in the 7 to 13-year old classification.

Shannon Williamson paddles her boat toward the finish line.

Adult category overall speed winner Colton Snook races his “Darigold Express” to another win.

Drawing a little more draft then when captained by his son, Adult category second-place winner Tim Hansen takes his turn racing in Dairy-Air – making use of both the paddle wheel and the paddles

Win, lose, or watch, everyone seemed to enjoy the day. Members of the Williamson family from Milwaukie took first and second place in the Multi-Rider Classification, and placed well in singles competition. “We’re here because my kids are crazy,” said mom Susan, watching from the grass. “And so is my husband! Actually, it seemed like a fun thing to do. As it’s turned out, this is a great family event.”

Watch for the date of next year’s Milk Carton Boat Races – and start saving those milk cartons and plastic bottles.

Sellwood’s Noah Bothe, who took second place in the Children’s Division, paddles his boat, “Let’s Moove”.

When Sam Hartford finally docked, he said he was disappointed that his milk carton craft folded up “like a $2 suitcase”!

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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