Students test lagoon waters in recyclable boat contest

By Grant Miller

Homemade boats were on display at the East Lagoon Wednesday as the Homecoming Committee held the first recyclable boat race as part of Homecoming festivities.

About 250 people gathered on the shores of the lagoon to watch the 20 participating boats attempt to go from one end of the lagoon to the other. The boats were judged on creativity, school spirit and their ability to cross the lagoon safely. The race marked the first year recyclable boat races have been held at NIU.

Participants had to search for usable materials to compete in the event. This often meant that participants saved materials that some people would consider garbage.

“We just saved a lot of scraps that were laying around the house,” Brian Pulliam of Lambda Chi Alpha said. Pulliam helped design and build the boat. “Some other parts came from where I work.”

The pontoon-style boat also featured a model dressed in an NIU football uniform.

Some of the boaters complained that not all of the ships were completely recyclable. The Sigma Pi and Alpha Delta Pi boat claimed to be made of entirely recyclable material, right down to the oars the boaters used.

“We made our boat out of all recyclable materials,” Andy Hamilton of the Sigma Pi team said. “Our boat is recyclable and it will float.”

Many of the contestants questioned the buoyancy of their ships. Since this was the first year of the races, few of the boats were ever tested in the lagoon.

“We’ll be lucky if it floats even for five minutes,” Jeff Stensland of the Phi Kappa Theta team. Stensland, who worked in the construction of the boat, showed very little confidence in his work and was glad that he was not going to be riding in it.

Creativity and originality judge Rick Clark, associate director of University Programing and Activities, had more confidence in the boats.

“I think some of the boats will do very well,” he said. “But there are others that might sink immediately.”

That sinking feeling was confirmed by Alpha Omicron Pi team member Annette Rehfus about her team’s boat, “The Naugler.”

“I’m scared of getting wet,” she said. “I’m scared because I can barely swim.”

Rehfus felt destiny had bound her with her boat. “We’re going down with this boat, trust me,” she said.

Pulliam suggested that there was nothing to fear, even if you can’t swim. “There’s nothing to be afraid of, it’s only water, and it’s only a few feet deep,” he said. “It’s cold water, but I feel confident that our boat will be all right.”

Oddly, Pulliam’s boat was called the “Lambda Chi Alpha Three Hour Tour.”

While there were no accidents of Titanic proportions, some boaters seemed destined to perish with their ship.