NEW FRANKLIN — A dragon, a turtle, the Apollo 11 lunar module and characters from “Toy Story” all descended Saturday on the beach at Portage Lakes State Park.
It wasn’t a crossover movie mashup but the annual boat parade and sand castle contest at Portage Lakes.
On the water, after a parade from the East Reservoir to the beach at the state park, the designs for the top two boats were neck-and-neck, as they usually are each year.
But first place, with a $700 prize, ultimately went to the Bachmann, Vesco and Thomas families of the Akron area, who decked out their boat as Andy’s Toybox from “Toy Story,” complete with several of the characters packed inside, music from the movie blasting across the water and Chris Bachmann dressed as Slinky Dog on a Jet Ski.
The group has participated in the parade, which was founded in 1976, for at least 14 years.
For this year’s boat, which took about a week to construct, the timing of “Toy Story 4” worked well, as they needed a theme with lots of characters. In Chris Bachmann’s family, he’s the youngest of 12 children, with 36 nieces and nephews, so there’s always a lot of hands to help put the boat together each year.
“We enjoy the process more than we enjoy anything else. ... We have a blast every year,” he said.
Bachmann said he enjoys the competition, too.
“Those guys are awesome every year. I like seeing their boat as much as they like seeing our boat,” he said of the second-place finishers.
Second place, with a $300 prize, went to a boat commemorating the 50th anniversary this month of Apollo 11, from Michael and Katy Boyle and their kids Grace and William of New Franklin and Matt Maier of Green.
The 24-foot-tall rocket required a winch to get it lowered beneath the bridges on the parade route. Along with the rocket, the boat also included the surface of the moon and mission control, complete with old televisions.
This is the sixth year the team has competed, coming in second place three years and first place two years. They were hoping to make it three and three this year, but Michael Boyle acknowledged “the ‘Toy Story’ boat's pretty cool, so they always do a good job with their Jet Ski.”
It took about a week to put the boat together. They’ll definitely be back next year.
“The itch to get first place again,” Maier said. “Every year.”
Third place, with a $200 prize, went to a “Jurassic Park” boat. Fourth place, with a $100 prize, went to an aircraft carrier boat. Fifth place, with a $50 prize, went to a boat decorated as a corn dog stand. Other boat themes included “Game of Thrones” and a gray battleship.
On the beach, first place in the sand castle contest went to veteran builders Carolyn Frederick, Frank Kosa, Sarah Kosa and Cody Kosa of Clinton, who constructed a dragon made out of sand and dyed green, yellow and red with food coloring. The design earned them a $200 prize.
The family estimates they’ve competed for the last 10 years, taking first place last year with a turtle. Frederick found the dragon idea on Pinterest, and they put it together in about 90 minutes Saturday using a butter knife and a spray bottle they filled with dyed lake water.
“It feels good after 10 years of trying,” Sarah Kosa said.
Second place, with a $100 prize, went to new contestants Erik and Tiffany Cole, Marc and Sarah Hamm, Alisha Talbert and their kids, all of Akron, who used only their hands to carve a detailed turtle into the sand in about an hour.
“We were all mounding the sand up, and Sarah came up with the idea to do a sea turtle. I think the shape of our pile of sand really resembled a turtle,” said Erik Cole of how they came up with the design, adding they plan to return next year.
Third place, with a $50 prize, went to a hippo design, while fourth place, with a $25 prize, went to an octopus sculpture. Seventeen adult teams and seven kid teams competed Saturday; the kid winner, who built a “city castle,” also won a goodie bag.
Judging for the sand castle contest, which was finished just before a downpour fell on the park, was done by Brittney Bedford, who works for Logo.me, a company that does promotional work in Portage Lakes, and her family.
“This has been a great turnout for this year's sand castle contest,” she said. “Granted, the weather was not the most beautiful.”
Contact reporter Emily Mills at 330-996-3334, firstname.lastname@example.org and @EmilyMills818.