10 More Odd and Unusual Boating Events

Just a couple of days ago, we had 10 Strange and Wonderful Boat Races. Readers suggested other boat races, hinting that a list of ten was not enough. So here are ten more events in which you can enjoy some awesome and unusual boating, floating, and racing.

1. Aquatennial Milk Carton Boat Races

The Minneapolis Aquatennial festival features Milk Carton Boat Races which were held last weekend. Entrants who build boats floating on milk cartons can compete in different races and events, including one in which boats are decorated as cows! The festival itself continues through this Saturday. Photograph by gomattolson via Wikipedia.

2. Kaljakellunta

Kaljakellunta is a Finnish term that sort of translates to Beer-Floating. Held annually in waterways near Helsinki since 1997, it is essentially a party held on rubber rafts or other floats. Kaljakellunta 2012 will be on July 28th. If you are in Finland, or can read Finnish, you'll find more information at Facebook. A more comprehensive video that is a little NSFW can be found here.

3. Red Green Regatta

The Red Green Regatta in Fairbanks, Alaska, is not a race, but a showcase for boats made of duct tape. The 2012 race is this Sunday! There's still time to register, but do you have time to make a boat and get to Fairbanks? The rules for boat building are quite lenient; all that is required is that you use a minimum of one roll of duct tape. Prizes are awarded for creativity and construction, seaworthiness, and how the craft incorporates the Red Green theme. Red Green himself will be on hand to help select winners. Photograph by Andrew and Jennifer.

4. Seattle Seafair Milk Carton Derby


The Denny's Seafair Milk Carton Derby was held last weekend as part of Seattle's Seafair, which continues through July 29th. Although all boats are made of milk cartons, different sizes, speeds, and classes have their own races, as well as a special class of races for "entries where design took precedence over speed." See pictures from this year's derby here. Photograph by Flickr user scalpel3000.

5. Henley-on-Todd Regatta

The Henley-on-Todd Regatta will take place in Alice Springs, Australia, on Saturday, August 18th. This is a boat race without water, held on the dry Todd River bed. The annual event began in 1962 as a parody of the Henley-on-Thames race between Oxford and Cambridge Universities, with the difference being that this race is in the desert. Having no body of water, the boats are bottomless so the sailors can race with their feet. There are competitions in many classes, for different size crews and even a motorized event, which is limited to members of the Rotary Clubs who sponsor the regatta. Photograph from Henley-on-Todd Inc.

6. Anything That Floats Regatta

The Anything That Floats Regatta takes place annually in Key Largo, Florida. This year's event is scheduled for August 17th and 18th. Build a boat out of anything and compete for the fastest in the races, best decorated boat, or best looking crew categories. Last year, there were also winners for categories such as most people on a boat without sinking and best hard luck story.

7. Viking Long Boat Races

The World Championship Viking Long Boat Races take place in Peel Harbour on the Isle of Man. This event has been held since 1963, and the 2012 event is this Saturday, July 21st. Seventy teams of ten people are expected, each heaving 11-foot-long oars in the manner of Vikings. This is one boat race in which the participants do not build their own boats; four existing Viking boats are used. Each weighs around 2.5 tonnes! Pictured is Team CabCard, which won the Best Newcomer award in 2010.

8. Redneck Regatta

The BAGM Redneck Regatta is part of the Celebrate De Pere festival in De Pere, Wisconsin in May. The boats are human powered and homemade, of very specific materials:

Allowable building materials include cardboard (including “sonotubes”), wood glue, duct tape or packing tape and spray paint. Nothing else!

Photograph by Corey Wilson/Press-Gazette.

9. De Soto Bottle Boat Regatta

The 2012 De Soto Bottle Boat Regatta in Bradenton, Florida, took place on April 14th. The annual event is sponsored by the Hernando DeSoto Historical Society. The boats are homemade and depend on plastic bottles for floatability. Prizes are awarded for the fastest to paddle across the finish line and for style, construction, and crew costumes. See more photographs of this year's race at the Bradenton Herald. Image from YouTube.

10. Chocolate Boat Regatta

In 2010, French master chocolatier Georges Larnicol made a boat out of chocolate as a publicity stunt. A year later, he went one better by staging a chocolate regatta, featuring seven chocolate boats, all made by his company. Three of the boats sank, but the crowd enjoyed it and the headlines were worth it. This is one regatta that is not likely to become an annual event.

Wolfgang via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
8 Legendary Monsters of Christmas
Wolfgang via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
Wolfgang via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

The customs of the holiday season, which include St. Nicholas Day, New Years Day, and Epiphany, as well as Christmas, often incorporate earlier pagan traditions that have been appropriated and adapted for contemporary use. Customs that encourage little children to be good so as to deserve their Christmas gifts often come with a dark side: the punishment you'll receive from a monster or evil being of some sort if you aren't good! These nefarious characters vary from place to place, and they go by many different names and images.


As a tool to encourage good behavior in children, Santa serves as the carrot, and Krampus is the stick. Krampus is the evil demon anti-Santa, or maybe his evil twin. Krampus Night is celebrated on December 5, the eve of St. Nicholas Day in Austria and other parts of Europe. Public celebrations that night have many Krampuses walking the streets, looking for people to beat. Alcohol is also involved. Injuries in recent years have led to some reforms, such as requiring all Krampuses to wear numbers so they may identified in case of overly violent behavior.

Krampus may look like a devil, or like a wild alpine beast, depending on what materials are available to make a Krampus costume. In modern times, people can spend as much as they like to become the best Krampus around—and the tradition is spreading beyond Europe. Many cities in America have their own Krampus Nights now.


Jólakötturinn is the Icelandic Yule Cat or Christmas Cat. He is not a nice cat. In fact, he might eat you. This character is tied to an Icelandic tradition in which those who finished all their work on time received new clothes for Christmas, while those who were lazy did not (although this is mainly a threat). To encourage children to work hard, parents told the tale of the Yule Cat, saying that Jólakötturinn could tell who the lazy children were because they did not have at least one new item of clothing for Christmas—and these children would be sacrificed to the Yule Cat. This reminder tends to spur children into doing their chores! A poem written about the cat ends with a suggestion that children help out the needy, so they, too, can have the protection of new clothing. It's no wonder that Icelanders put in more overtime at work than most Europeans.


Flickr // Markus Ortner

Tales told in Germany and Austria sometimes feature a witch named Frau Perchta who hands out both rewards and punishments during the 12 days of Christmas (December 25 through Epiphany on January 6). She is best known for her gruesome punishment of the sinful: She will rip out your internal organs and replace them with garbage. The ugly image of Perchta may show up in Christmas processions in Austria, somewhat like Krampus.

Perchta's story is thought to have descended from a legendary Alpine goddess of nature, who tends the forest most of the year and deals with humans only during Christmas. In modern celebrations, Perchta or a close relation may show up in processions during Fastnacht, the Alpine festival just before Lent. There may be some connection between Frau Perchta and the Italian witch La Befana, but La Befana isn't really a monster: she's an ugly but good witch who leaves presents.


A drawing of Belsnickel.
Lucas, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Belsnickel is a male character from southwestern German lore who traveled to the United States and survives in Pennsylvania Dutch customs. He comes to children sometime before Christmas, wearing tattered old clothing and raggedy fur. Belsnickel carries a switch to frighten children and candy to reward them for good behavior. In modern visits, the switch is only used for noise, and to warn children they still have time to be good before Christmas. Then all the children get candy, if they are polite about it. The name Belsnickel is a portmanteau of the German belzen (meaning to wallop) and nickel for St. Nicholas. See a video of a Belsnickel visit here.

Knecht Ruprecht and Ru Klaas are similar characters from German folklore who dole out beatings to bad children, leaving St. Nicholas to reward good children with gifts.


Hans Trapp is another "anti-Santa" who hands out punishment to bad children in the Alsace and Lorraine regions of France. The legend says that Trapp was a real man, a rich, greedy, and evil man, who worshiped Satan and was excommunicated from the Catholic Church. He was exiled into the forest where he preyed upon children, disguised as a scarecrow with straw jutting out from his clothing. He was about to eat one boy he captured when he was struck by lightning and killed—a punishment of his own from God. Still, he visits young children before Christmas, dressed as a scarecrow, to scare them into good behavior.


The French legend of Père Fouettard, whose name translates to "Father Whipper," begins with an evil butcher who craved children to eat. He (or his wife) lured three boys into his butcher shop, where he killed, chopped, and salted them. St. Nicholas came to the rescue, resurrected the boys, and took custody of the butcher. The captive butcher became Père Fouettard, St. Nicholas' servant whose job it is to dispense punishment to bad children on St. Nicholas Day.


The Jólasveinar, or Yule Lads, are 13 Icelandic trolls, who each have a name and distinct personality. In ancient times, they stole things and caused trouble around Christmastime, so they were used to scare children into behaving, like the Yule Cat. However, the 20th century brought tales of the benevolent Norwegian figure Julenisse (Santa Claus), who brought gifts to good children. The traditions became mingled, until the formerly devilish Jólasveinar became kind enough to leave gifts in shoes that children leave out ... if they are good boys and girls. 


All the Yule Lads answer to Grýla, their mother. She predates the Yule Lads in Icelandic legend as the ogress who kidnaps, cooks, and eats children who don't obey their parents. She only became associated with Christmas in the 17th century, when she was assigned to be the mother of the Yule Lads. According to legend, Grýla had three different husbands and 72 children, all who caused trouble ranging from harmless mischief to murder. As if the household wasn't crowded enough, the Yule Cat also lives with Grýla. This ogress is so much of a troublemaker that The Onion blamed her for the 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano.

A version of this post originally ran in 2013. See also: more Legendary Monsters

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84 Years Ago Today: Goodbye Prohibition!
A huge queue outside the Board of Health offices in Centre Street, New York, for licenses to sell alcohol shortly after the repeal of prohibition. The repeal of prohibition was a key policy of Franklin Roosevelt's government as it allowed the government an opportunity to raise tax revenues at a time of economic hardship.
A huge queue outside the Board of Health offices in Centre Street, New York, for licenses to sell alcohol shortly after the repeal of prohibition. The repeal of prohibition was a key policy of Franklin Roosevelt's government as it allowed the government an opportunity to raise tax revenues at a time of economic hardship.
Keystone/Getty Images

It was 84 years ago today that the Twenty-First Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, repealing the earlier Amendment that declared the manufacture, sale, and transport of alcohol illegal in the United States. Prohibition was over! Booze that had been illegal for 13 years was suddenly legal again, and our long national nightmare was finally over.

A giant barrel of beer, part of a demonstration against prohibition in America.
Henry Guttmann/Getty Images

Prohibition of alcohol was not a popular doctrine. It turned formerly law-abiding citizens into criminals. It overwhelmed police with enforcement duties and gave rise to organized crime. In cities like Milwaukee and St. Louis, the dismantling of breweries left thousands of people unemployed.

Photograph courtesy of the Boston Public Library

Homemade alcohol was often dangerous and some people died from drinking it. Some turned to Sterno or industrial alcohol, which was dangerous and sometimes poisoned by the government to discourage drinking. State and federal governments were spending a lot of money on enforcement, while missing out on taxes from alcohol.

New York City Deputy Police Commissioner John A. Leach (right) watches agents pour liquor into sewer following a raid during the height of Prohibition.

The midterm elections of 1930 saw the majority in Congress switch from Republican to Democratic, signaling a shift in public opinion about Prohibition as well as concerns about the depressed economy. Franklin Roosevelt, who urged repeal, was elected president in 1932. The Twenty-first Amendment to the Constitution was proposed by Congress in February of 1933, the sole purpose of which was to repeal the Eighteenth Amendment establishing Prohibition.

American men guarding their private beer brewing hide-out, during Prohibition.
Keystone/Getty Images

With passage of the Constitutional Amendment to repeal Prohibition a foregone conclusion, a huge number of businessmen lined up at the Board of Health offices in New York in April of 1933 to apply for liquor licenses to be issued as soon as the repeal was ratified.

The Amendment was ratified by the states by the mechanism of special state ratifying conventions instead of state legislatures. Many states ratified the repeal as soon as conventions could be organized. The ratifications by the required two-thirds of the states was achieved on December 5, 1933, when conventions in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Utah agreed to repeal Prohibition through the Amendment.

Workmen unloading crates of beer stacked at a New York brewery shortly after the repeal of Prohibition.
Keystone/Getty Images

A brewery warehouse in New York stacked crates past the ceiling to satisfy a thirsty nation after the repeal of Prohibition.

Keystone/Getty Images

Liquor wouldn't officially be legal until December 15th, but Americans celebrated openly anyway, and in most places, law enforcement officials let them.


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