Ready, Set, Race: Salem residents participate in annual regatta 01

Brayden Adamson, 11, of Salem, paddles his boat towards the finish line during Salem Days Cardboard Duct Tape Regatta at Knoll Park on Tuesday.

SALEM -- Salem Days Cardboard Duct Tape Boat Regatta would not be the same without the three Olsen brothers carrying in the homemade freestyle boat for the race. These three brothers have been a part of this annual race across Salem Pond since it began 13 years ago.

“This is something that has become a family tradition and we love it,”said Tad Olsen.”It is so much fun to do this with my brothers and to see each year what we come up with.”

In years past, the Olsen brothers have shown up with a homemade hamster wheel boat that they raced in and another year made a Star Destroyer themed boat.

"We don’t do this to win,” Cam Olsen said. ”We do this because it is so much fun and it is like being a kid again.”

This year, the Olsen brothers decided they would make their boat one of a kind in conjunction with "The Lego Movie" that is being shown in the park for the city’s annual celebration.

“It does make me a little sad to take it out on the water after all the time we put into and how awesome it looks,”said Brady Olsen.”But then again, this is the fun that comes from all the hard work.”

After 31 rolls of duct tape and many, many donated boxes of cardboard and close to two weeks worth of work, Emmet made his appearance and the attendees went crazy with excitement.

“The first year we had six boats and now we are up to 60 and we have had to turn people away it is such a hit,” said Shellie Olsen, event coordinator. ”Out of those six boats, two belonged to our family.”

Those 60 boats, each made up of three pieces of corrugated cardboard that was donated by Longview Fiber, a one-inch by two-inch by eight-inch board and two rolls of duct tape, raced around the pond Tuesday evening.

“Each year more and more people from our community come out to watch this fun event,” Shellie Olsen said. ”We have such a wonderful community and have such a great support here in Salem. It would not be Salem days without the Cardboard Duct Tape race.”

All of the participants were responsible to provide utility knives for cutting, life vests, paddles and markers or spray paint for decoration, and the teams were to set up throughout Knoll Park. They had two hours to make the perfect boat. After the two hours were up, the racing began and so did all the laughter from the attendees.

“We have so much fun doing this and laugh a lot,” said Youth Council Mayor Adam Boden. ”I like to say our boat was made with love.”

Four boats raced at a time leaving the shore and paddling out and around two buoys and back to shore.

Bradley Cloward from Salem’s Scout Troop 1530 worked really hard along with the other members of the troop to make that perfect boat as he did last year which won him the race.

“This is the winning boat,” said Cloward. ”I know it, I know it.”

“I love being able to come out and be a part of the great community,” said Miss Salem Tessa Fitzgerald. ”I am excited to race my boat with my second attendant, we live in such a close knit community and I love that."

The winning boats from each of the four categories will be riding on a float in the Salem Days Parade on Saturday along with their drivers.

For more information about upcoming Salem days events, please visit

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