A month left for returning raft race registration

By Frank Schier 
Editor & Publisher 

With the August 1 deadline only a month away, and with the race on Aug. 21, more than 23 teams have registered for the Rock River Anything That Floats Race (RRATFR). Since up to 100 teams will be accepted, you and yours, your friends, neighbors and co-workers still have time to design and register your own HMS Bounty, Kon-Tiki, Santa Maria, Mayflower, Noah’s Ark and hopefully not the Titanic at rratfr.com. Have some fun!

Take a look at the website to see the self-powered creativity of the 1990’s. Rock River rafts for the race came in form of the Space Shuttle – complete with space-walking astronaut – a gondola; a giant duck; the Budweiser Beer Wagon – complete with horses – a dragon; a giant carp; a banana boat; a fork lift; a bi-plane; a helicopter; a stick of butter; a turtle; a waffle; a toy truck; the Batraft; a bus; and yes, even Noah’s Ark and the Titanic – complete with deadly iceberg. These pictures are time machines inviting you to hop on board and have fun creating new memories.

Prizes will be awarded for First Place, Most Creative Design, and People’s Choice. Plans for “Chuck A Duck,” sponsored by the Rockford IceHogs are also underway. You may also see a RRATFR 50/50 raffle.

Pete Riggs, local downtown developer and owner of riverfront and riverview property, says, “I’m a former award winner; I won Most Creative for a big, colorful carp made out of four 55-gallon drums complete with outrigging. I bent the front one into the head and the end into a tail (the picture is on the race’s website). At the time, I was an exhibit designer for the Sundstrand Corporation. Another year, I was a shipwreck with an Adirondack Chair bolted to a frame on a big inner tube and a paddle. My kids and I built them in our garage up on Ethel Avenue, and I’d come down to the river with my kids, Phil and Ian, and launch them.”

He admits, “I have not registered. But I do have some concepts, but I haven’t decided yet. The Lombardi Club said they may sponsor me. Everybody should try this; it’s fun. It’s a good family time for getting on the river. The more rafts the better!”

So, yes, you, could ask your club or employer to sponsor you, the entry fee is only $100. Some past sponsor/racers were Nylint Toys; Mary’s Market; RMTD; an unknown bank’s raft, “Can I Float You A Loan”; Forest Hills Cleaners; Sunset Lounge; St. Joseph’s Hospital; The House On The Rock; Baskin-Robbins; Rockford College; Venice Terrazzo and Tile Co.; and Material Handling Company.

To date, this year’s major sponsors are Rock Valley Credit Union and Prairie Street Brewing Co.

To date, this year’s in-kind sponsors include Rock River Disposal; Metro Ambulance; Wilson Towing, and Rock River Enterprises and Barge;.

And this year’s organizing sponsors to-date are: Prairie Street Brewing Co.; Midwest Family Broadcasting Group; Channel 13 WREX; The Rock River Times; Rockford Park District; Graham-Spencer; CMM & Associates; Bourn & Koch, Inc.; Fehr Graham; Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau; Joseph James/Rockford City Market; Ski Broncs; Tyler’s Landscaping; Nels Ackerlund Photography; Marion S. Momaly CPA, MST; Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department; Rockford Fire Department; and Loves Park Fire Department.

For you non-builders/designers, register to race for only $15 for a kayak, canoe, or stand up paddleboard. You can even rent your boat at Rocktown Advertures, 313 N. Madison St, 815-636-9066. They have 10 rentals available, so you’d better make your reservations soon.

With the Aug. 1 (registration deadline) and Aug. 21 (race day), your raft could be built with materials from Youthbuild’s Salvage Too, 902 S. Main St., a fine source of good, inexpensive lumber. Open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, their materials are cheaper than any big box store and “Green,” which help keep good products out of the landfill.

Another great place for quality, recycled raft materials is Habitat ReStore, 986 W. Riverside Blvd. (North Towne Mall), 815-713-3184. They’re open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Friday and until 4 p.m. on Saturday.

After expenses, RRATFR proceeds will be distributed to the following Rock River non-for-profits: Fourth of July and Holiday Lighting Committee; Rock River National Water Trail; and the Rockford Ski Broncs.

In the coming weeks, look for profiles on the teams who have registered so far. My favorite is the Doe Family: John, Jane, Jack and June, all from Channel 13 WREX. High school and college teams are also welcome, Guilford High School and Keith Country Day School are already registered. Obviously committed to fun, some of these names may be familiar to you: OSF; Jax Pub; Whiskey’s Roadhouse; Rick List; Mike Quinn; Dan Bader; Mike Bedin; Jill Bosselman; Joan Spotts; Chris Manuel; Reed Sjostrom; Dustin Koch; Paul A. Arco; Jason Hickey; Mike Delehanty; and those are just some of the most recent teams that registered.  More to come next week.

So hurry up and go to rratfr.com to register for what will be the biggest and funnest time on the Rock River this summer.

For volunteer opportunities, contact Amy McIntyre, Facility Manager for the Rockford Park District Ice Facilities, amymcintyre@rockfordparkdistrict.org.

For vendor opportunities, contact Cathy McDermott, Director Rockford City Market, cathy.mcdermott@rrdp.org.

For sponsorship opportunities, contact Mike Paterson,General Manager, Mid-West Family Broadcasting, mpaterson@rmgmwf.com.

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!