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Cardboard Boat Regatta: Annual Cape Coral fun fest starts April 17

By Staff | Apr 10, 2015

People have an opportunity next weekend to see if cardboard can float – and how. The annual Cape Coral Cardboard Boat Regatta will take place on April 18 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Four Freedoms Park.

Hosted by the Rotary Club of Cape Coral, the event will consist of races between boats made from cardboard, tape and adhesive. A pre-event party is set for April 17 from 5 to 10 p.m.

“People put a lot of effort into them,” Bill Shallbetter, a spokesperson and member of the Rotary Club, said of building the boats. “You’d be hard pressed to say that they’re made out of cardboard.”

Admission to the regatta is free and it is open to the public, as is the pre-event party.

The title sponsor this year is Lee County Electric Cooperative.

On Friday, all of the participating boats will be on display and the public can meet the builders.

“Friday night is a time to look at the boats,” he said.

A panel of judges will also decide which entries deserve the title of Best Original Design, Best Construction, Best Decorated and the Most Whimsical. Categorized by either a club-organization entry or family-individual-youth group entry, the boats will be awarded first, second and third place.

“We’re going to have food,” Shallbetter said.

There will also be drinks available for purchase, including beer and wine.

“We have a liquor license for that weekend,” he said.

The group ROCKER will perform live.

“It’s a very popular band in Southwest Florida,” Shallbetter said.

On Saturday, the actual races will start at 1 p.m. There are nearly a dozen set, including single and multi-paddler ages 13-17, single and multi-paddler ages 18-54, single and multi-paddler ages 55 and over, parent paddling with child under age 13, paddling with pets and electric motor-powered boat.

There is also a race for the “big” boats – the ones 18 feet or longer.

“We’ve got at least four of them,” he said.

The final race is the free-for-all.

“That’s where many of them end up sinking the boats,” Shallbetter said.

Additional awards handed out on Saturday include first, second and third for the Most Speculator Sinking and Best Team Spirit. Attendees also get to vote for their favorites for People’s Choice.

Last year, a couple thousand turned out, with approximately two dozen entries.

“We’ve got 24 boats so far this year,” he said Thursday.

The Rotary Club will have two cardboard boats on site for those who want to give it a try.

“They are available to paddle in the Citizens’ Challenge Race,” Shallbetter said.

The rental cost is $5 per person.

Local businesses and merchants will have booths for the public to browse.

“We’re going to have vendors set up,” he said.

Killa-Watts, LCEC’s homegrown band will perform live.

Event T-shirts will be on sale, and a children’s playground is on site.

“It’s a nice, fun family event to come to,” Shallbetter said. “It’s just a lot of fun.”

The Rotary Club does ask for a monetary contribution for parking.

For more information, visit the website online at: www.capecoralregatta.com.

Four Freedoms Park is at 4818 Tarpon Court.