Cardboard canoe race blends Halloween festivities and team-building fun
Published: Thursday, October 27, 2011
Updated: Thursday, October 27, 2011 23:10
Using only duct tape, flattened cardboard boxes, garbage bags, a retractable box-cutter and a jack-o-lantern, students were challenged to construct a pool-worthy vessel during "The Night of The Living Cardboard Canoe Race" Thursday night in the Wolff-Zackin Natatorium.
Students who registered for the 6th-annual Halloween competition, held by UConn Outdoors and Natural High, had 90 minutes to design and construct their canoes. Nine two-person teams competed for the titles of fastest time, best costumes, best boat design and most spectacular capsize.
The only rules of the event were that students had to touch both ends of the pool during the 50-yard race, incorporate a plastic jack-o-lantern into the design of the boat, and only use the materials given to them. For $30 per team to register, students were given their boat supplies, T-shirts, prizes and candy.
"It's a Halloween tradition," said Mike D'Alfonso, coordinator of UConn Fitness and Wellness. "It's been really popular."
Participants enthusiastically created their watercrafts in the box office hallway leading to the natatorium, while Halloween-themed music played on the speakers and volunteers passed around bowls of candy.
Several teams coordinated their costumes, including a pair of pirates, lax bros, a panda and zebra as well as a jack-o-lantern and skeleton. Judged by UConn recreation staff, the pirate-clad Team Dead Weight took the prize for best costume, Team Ugly Ducklings were awarded best boat design and Team Dirty Language won most spectacular capsize. Three boats did not make it the full 50 yards and sunk during the race.
A crowd gathered in the bleachers and the front row was lined with spectators recording the races on their phones. The onlookers cheered loudly for the racers to finish before sinking and to paddle faster.
Racing in groups of two, the prize for fastest time was awarded to the team with the overall best time. Team Blasé, dressed as a zebra and panda, paddled their way to victory with a time of 54.33 seconds.
"We wanted to keep it simple and paddle hard," said Chris Gross, a 7th-semester secondary education major and Team Blasé member. "I Googled ‘cardboard canoe race' and saw that a simple box was a good design."
Both Gross and his teammate Anna Praino, a 7th-semester psychology major, work at UConn Outdoors.
Last year, the canoe race was televised on ESPN during a UConn football halftime break, according to John Huck, Outdoor Adventure assistant.
"We are all about trying to get people to come out and have some fun," Huck said. "We are always trying to keep our events fresh and exciting for patrons."