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Crystal Lake’s Cardboard Cup Regatta to make comeback next year with new leadership

The Cardboard Cup Regatta is coming back to Crystal Lake under a new organization in 2022, the Crystal Lake Parks Initiative Foundation announced recently.

At the event, which has been happening for more than 30 years, boats made of cardboard and decorated are raced at Main Beach in Crystal Lake.

But in 2019, the old board in charge of the Cardboard Cup Regatta dissolved and a new board had not stepped up to take over, the Northwest Herald reported in August 2019. Then with COVID-19 causing restrictions on social gatherings, it wasn’t possible to have the event in 2020.

Now, the Crystal Lake Parks Initiative Foundation, which is the Crystal Lake Park District’s fundraising arm, has taken over the Cardboard Cup Regatta.

Bryan Younge, president of the Crystal Lake Parks Initiative Foundation, said they didn’t want the event to end or go to the wayside, so they unanimously decided to organize it themselves.

Dozens of people come out to watch the race on their own real boats, Younge said.

“They park as close as they can to the regatta to watch,” Younge said. “It’s a huge event.”

Set for July 23, the event will retain elements of past races while still being infused with the new organizers’ own personality, said Younge and Michele Hartwig, the Crystal Lake Parks Initiative Foundation’s secretary.

“There’s a lot of energy behind this,” Younge said. “We’re sort of rebranding it, but we’re definitely keeping all of the meaningful traditions that people want in the cardboard regatta.”

Hartwig had a hand in organizing past Crystal Lake races before, including the Frozen Gnome, so when she had heard the Cardboard Cup Regatta might not happen in the future, Hartwig said she was sad.

“It’s such a great tradition,” Hartwig said. “It’s just so unique, and something that I look forward to every single year.”

Younge said they talked to past organizers of the regatta, who said they liked that someone else was going to “carry the torch.”

“We were like, ‘Yes, we love this tradition in our town, and we’d be honored to take it on and bring it to the community,’” Hartwig said.

One year, Younge said, his oldest son, Evan, made a boat for the Cardboard Cup Regatta while the rest of the family watched. The boat ended up torpedoing to the bottom of the lake at Main Beach in the first 10 seconds it was on the water, Younge said, although building the boat ended up being one of the best times they ever had.

“We’re going to be coming up with a whole bunch of different prizes for the participants to win,” Younge said. “It’s probably the only event in the world where you get rewarded for not finishing.”

“It can be for all ages, and I think that that’s something that’s especially special about it,” Hartwig said. “Mom and dad and kids and grandparents and friends, they can form a team to work on something together.”

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that it was Younge’s oldest son who made the cardboard boat. The story was also changed to say that people come to watch the regatta on real boats.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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