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November 8, 2013

Looking Back: Floatable Boatables race down creek

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From the Archives of the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm and “Home Town Rochester,”
by Deborah Larsen.

ROCHESTER — In 1969, as part of the city’s centennial celebration, the Floatable Boatable race was held in Avon Park.

To celebrate the 100-year anniversary of incorporation into a village, Rochester men grew beards, and local women dressed as centennial belles in hoop skirts. Centennial activities included street dancing, a parade and a grand pageant. A full summer of centennial events was commissioned under the leadership of John Boeberitz, including a Floatable Boatable race on Memorial Day weekend.

The race featured ingenious home-built floats that raced down the Paint Creek in competition for trophies. A crowd of spectators cheered on the imaginative boats and rafts. The race was so popular that it continued for a number of years after the centennial as an annual Memorial Day event, until it was canceled due to an inability to secure liability insurance for the race.

— Linda Shepard