The Village of Grass Lake celebrated the Fourth of July with an unusual boating tradition Wednesday, where going under is half the fun.
"Basically you take cardboard, a bunch of sheets of cardboard, you cut them up and make a boat out of them," past participant Collin Keener explained.
Grass Lake's cardboard boat race is one of the few water challeges where endurance usually trumps speed. The winner is the first to the finish line, but getting across at all is the real game.
"It keeps up for a minute and then it just disintegrates," Keener said.
The rules are fairly simple, no styrofoam, no motors, just creativity and a paddle.
"You need paint, glue and caulking," an entrant said.
After all, cardboard isn't the world's most boyant material. "It feels like a really soggy canoe," Keener said, describing the boats.
While some crafts cruised along, others found a watery landing.
"It was tough for an older guy, but I tried the best I could and I sank," Charles Horoma of Michigan City, Indian said.
"Build it strong enough for two if you're coming alone," event judge Soren Anderson added.
Anderson has witnessed plenty of cardboard casualties. "Oh, I've seen people walk their rafts across the line," he said.
In this race, a sinking situation may not earn you a first place trophy, but beating the heat is a heck of a consolation prize.
"Well you get to swim," Keener said, with a shrug. "Eventually you have to."
Most competitors spend less than $10 to make their boats. Many in Grass Lake consider this a fun precursor to the village's major boat race, the Stock Outboard Nationals later this month.