Milk carton boat races move to land because of poor water quality

Updated: July 22, 2019 05:42 AM

A family favorite event had a different twist than usual at Thomas Beach on Sunday.

Unlike past years, the annual Milk Carton Boat Races couldn't be held in the waters at Bde Maka Ska because of poor water quality.


Instead of paddling, people carried their homemade ships on dry land. Organizers say they were disappointed to be out of the water, but safety comes first.

RELATED: Closures at Minneapolis lake forces milk carton boat races onto land

"We didn't want to cancel the races, and we tried to get them on other Minneapolis lakes but they are busy, they are booked, too small, all kinds of reasons, so we have to do a portage race. People portage their boats all the time from the driveway to the beach ... we thought they could handle it about 50 yards," said Charlie Casserly, executive director of Twin Cities Beach Blast.

The races have become a tradition that has been around the Twin Cities since 1971. Twin Cities Beach Blast said they rebranded the beloved event to Milk Carton Boat Portage Races.

Competitors ran their floating masterpieces for a short distance to win a speed prize. Despite the change, people said the event did not ruin the iconic race.

"A lot of the laughs are people falling in the water when their boats fall apart, so that's not going to happen today. People are worried about getting in the water on some ragtag boat. You don't have to worry about that," said Casserly.

Some beaches on the lake have been closed for three weeks due to high E. coli levels. It's still unclear when they will reopen.

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Ashley Zilka

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