Video: Cardboard boat race draws thousands downtown

June 2011 News

Why would two grown men dressed as fairies float down the Peconic River in a cardboard boat emblazoned with the logo of a women's lingerie company, one might wonder.

But when asked, the captains of "Victoria's Real Secret," Jim Kleven and Ben Cottiletta of Queens, offered a reasonable explanation.

"We had leftover pink paint in the garage and my wife and daughters came up with the idea," Mr. Cotilletta said. Their creation was painted with alternating light and dark pink stripes like the company's signature and the men wore pink fairy wings for the event.

"Victoria's Real Secret" was just one of 76 boats entered in the second annual Riverhead Cardboard Boat Race. The free event, which kicked off with a hula hoop contest and awarded prizes to some of the more creative entries, drew an estimated 3,500 people to the banks of the Peconic River Sunday.

The rules were simple, all entries had to be constructed using only cardboard and duct tape. Contestants had to row to a buoy and back, though many did not make it more than 10 feet from the dock. Afterwards, volunteers pulled the now-soggy (and much heavier) messes from the river.

Members of the Riverhead Business Improvement District Management Association, the race's sponsor, estimated that attendance had just about doubled since last year.

And it seems some of the boats were more outrageous this year, as well.

Mark Sisson of Mattituck (spectators might remember him as Gilligan) and his crew took home the Spirit Award for their boat, the "S.S. Minnow." Each member dressed as a character from the '60s television show "Gilligan's Island," though their vessel did not appear to be built for speed.


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