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Kids work to stay afloat in St. Charles cardboard boat race

ST. CHARLES – The kids navigating S.S. Pillbug – a cardboard boat specifically designed to cross Swanson Pool in St. Charles – were optimistic Saturday as they prepared to compete against other kids in the Sink or Swim Cardboard Boat Race.

They wanted to know how many laps they needed to complete.

"They said they are going to paddle to the end and chant to the end," said Marsha Buvary, whose children Albert, 10, and Anna, 7, navigated the boat with Brady and Brett Barnes, 9 and 11, respectively.

But their handmade boat – along with most others – didn't make it across the width of Swanson Pool without the kids somehow in the water.

Melissa Weaver, aquatic supervisor with the St. Charles Park District, noted that two boats made it across.

"I would call that a success," she said of the new park district activity.

Another Sink or Swim Cardboard Boat Race is set for July 12 at Otter Cove Aquatic Park.

Participants are limited to two construction materials – cardboard and duct tape. Boats cannot exceed 10 feet in length and must be capable of holding at least one person but no more than four.

Saturday, 8-year-old Hollister Schneider – who earned the nickname Dracula for his vampire costume – worked on his coffin-shaped boat for several weeks with his father, Mark Schneider.

His father said such elements as displacement, center of gravity and symmetry factored into the construction.

"There's some science involved," he said.

Although he capsized soon into the race, the St. Charles boy was rewarded for his efforts. He earned the Vogue Award, which recognized the team with the most spectacular or attractive boat.

"This will make a great memory," his grandmother Sandy Schneider said.

Lily and Norah Rooney, 12 and 8, took home first place along with the Pride of Columbus Award for the most creative design and best use of corrugated cardboard.

Paddling the boat to a win didn't come easy, though: "My arms hurt," Lily said.

OUTBOX: If you go

What: Sink or Swim Cardboard Boat Race

When: 10:30 a.m. July 12

Where: Otter Cove Aquatic Park, 3615 Campton Hills Road, St. Charles

Cost: Free

For information, visit or call 630-513-4377.

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