Calusa Ghost Tours, the concessioner at Bowditch Point Regional Park, invites everyone with a little ingenuity and some extra plastic jugs to have fun and raise some money for hard-working, local food bank Wake Up America.
The race for boats made out of plastic jugs will be held on Saturday, Nov. 5 in conjunction with the Calusa Blueway Paddling Festival. It will launch from Bowditch Point Park, located at the northern point of Fort Myers Beach and take place on the shallow waters between Bowditch Point and Bunche Beach.
"All it requires to build the jug boats is a little imagination, some creative spirit and a lot of plastic jugs," race organizer for Calusa Ghost Tours Wendy Rex explained.
The only two main requirements are that the jug boat's flotation must be made of plastic jugs and no motors are allowed. Other than those requirements, the boat's design and propulsion are up to the boat builders. With safety in mind, all participants are encouraged to test float their boats before the race and there is one more requirement: all racers must wear PFD's (aka: life preservers).
"The race is simply meant to give participants and spectators the opportunity to have fun and benefit a good cause while doing it," said Wake Up America Treasurer Tom Wiley. "We want to be able to pass as much of the proceeds as possible onto Wake Up America so race prizes will be for fun and not be the purpose of the event. Think beach balls and kayak tours."
Wake Up America is a local non-profit organization operated 100 percent by volunteers who collect surplus food from stores, distributors, production facilities and growers and then distribute that food to those who need it the most.
"Even though we are staffed entirely by volunteers, we must still maintain a central warehouse and buy fuel to transport the food and the need for our services has never been greater," added Wake Up America President Belinda Harper.
All those attending the event are also asked to bring non-perishable food donations.
There is a $20 per boat entry fee before the race and $25 for on-site registration. Checks, cash and charges will be made directly to Wake Up America. On-site registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. and races will begin at 10 a.m. Depending upon the number of entrants, divisions may be established for the number of people on each boat and/or type of propulsion. Families, companies and like-minded fun seekers are all welcome to enter their uniquely-designed jug boats.
Prospective entrants should enter "milk jug boat races" into an Internet search engine for design guidance.
Parking at this Lee County Parks and Recreation facility costs $1 per hour and fills quickly. Preregistration and car-pooling are highly recommended. There are free day docks and a kayak launch at the park spectators and entrants can also come by boat. There is a free parking lot off-site with trolley service so participants can drop off their boats and then commute back to the site once they have parked at that lot.
In addition to the race launch, there are food and paddle craft rentals available at Bowditch, a 17-acre preserve, picnic facilities, restrooms and showers and a beautiful, wide beach.
For more information or to register your winning jug boat, call 239-810-4742 or visit www.bowditchpark.com. For more information on Wake Up America, visit www.wakeupamericaofswfl.com. For more information on the Calusa Blueway Paddling Festival, visit www.calusabluewaypaddlingfestival.com.