Duct Tape Derby on the Chena: Red Green Checks Out Namesake River Regatta
Photo by Sam Friedman / News-Miner. Steve Smith, star of the Red Green Show, watches his namesake regatta Sunday near Pioneer Park.
FAIRBANKS — They could have asked the real Red Green to stand up Sunday morning, but odds are that would have caused homemade boats to capsize and sent people into the Chena River.
Duct tape, suspenders, beards and ingenuity are always important parts of the Red Green Regatta. But this year the Red Green look-alikes were especially prevalent among the 97 boats because the star of the Canadian television show who inspired the event came to Fairbanks and participated as a guest judge.
This year the winning craft was Jai Alai Unlikely, a floating cardboard sports car carrying members of the Bjella and Irinaga families. The families dressed up in the hats, shirts, suspenders and beards painted to look like Red Green, and the four young boys in the group recited the “man’s prayer” from the TV show: “I am a man. I can change. If I have to. I guess.”
Other notable contestants included a floating tank with a water cannon, a water balloon trebuchet, a working faucet made by a crew at Doyon Utilities, a hot tub, a jungle gym, a dragon, a crocodile, the Possum Lodge set of the TV show, a cello filled with three musicians and a cat bus.
Crafts have to make it from Graehl landing to Pioneer Park and use at least one roll of duct tape.
The scene was chaotic along the muddy shoreline at Pioneer Park as the participants came ashore. Rafts heavily loaded with laughing people took on water and people struggled to pull off the river before the current took them under the Peger Road bridge. On shore, a man dressed as Cap’n Crunch took some shots with a water gun at a man dressed as the Pope in a floating Pope-mobile
Toward the back of the pack was a raft hastily put together at the start of the regatta. Daniel Bates came to the Graehl Landing boat launch with a stabilty-challenged possum raft and met with Hank Carl and April Johnson who had a ping-pong table raft with similar problems.
“We just happened to go in the water at the same time and we said, hey, do you need an outrigger,” Johnson said. They called their combined raft the Awesome Possum Pong.
In presenting the awards Steve Smith, who plays the character Red Green, praised Fairbanks for its ingenuity, but had a critique.
“I felt almost all the boats would have worked better upside down,” he said. “But that’s just me.”