Onlookers will watch as a fleet of cardboard vessels takes to the water at Lake Anne Plaza this month, as part of the Reston Museum’s annual Lake Anne Cardboard Boat Regatta. Participants craft functional boats and then paddle them through the water.
The annual event, a fundraiser for the museum, fosters a sense of fun and community connection in Reston. It began in 2017 but took a few years off due to COVID-19.
Though the supplies are simple — “basically cardboard and duct tape,” says Alexandra Campbell, executive director of the Reston Museum — the resulting boats are anything but ordinary.
In heats of two at a time, these colorful, creative boats take off from the docks and race out to a buoy and back. As they ride by, spectators can cheer on their favorite or blast them with extra water from the “Super Soaker Station.”
The event is family-friendly and open to anyone over the age of 10. To compete, teams register online and pay sponsorship fees that start at $50. Campbell says that teams have ranged in size from one to 10 members, though smaller teams tend to have a buoyancy advantage. She estimates that 50 to 60 boats will race this year.
Prizes are awarded in several categories, including a “Titanic” award for the boat that “sinks the most spectacularly,” says Campbell.
“If the cardboard boats make it, it’s fun. If they topple over, it’s fun,” says Campbell. “It’s just fun to see what people come up with and how creative they are.”
Where: Lake Anne Plaza: 1609 Washington Plz., Reston
When: August 19 at noon
Cost: Free for spectators; sponsorships for participants start at $50
Feature image by Charlotte Geary, courtesy the Reston Museum