Coming in second were Bristol Junior-Senior High School seventh graders Aubrie Clarkson and Madelyne Devine who managed to stay afloat in the Red Bullet for eight minutes 43 seconds, surpassing their estimate of several minutes.
BRISTOL BOROUGH - An armada of decorated boats paddled across the serene waters of the Bristol Lagoon early
Friday evening as the hugely popular Delaware Canal Festival got underway.
While organizers kept a weary eye on the sky, hoping predictions of showers and storms would hold off, applause filled the air along the banks of the lagoon where hundreds gathered on beach chairs and blankets to watch the boat parade and to enjoy the other festival offerings.
Organized by the Friends of the Delaware Canal, the special evening devoted to the canal featured live music, duck decorating tables, community informational booths, canal-related games including pin the tail on the mule, a cardboard boat contest, food trucks organized by Raising the Bar and the highlight of the day, the decorated boat parade.
Kelly Carpenter and her son, Nick Gawlinski of Fairless Hills couldn't believe their luck when their boat - decorated in a Wizard of Oz theme - won this year's Best of Show award.
"Were pretty excited," said Carpenter who portrayed the role of the Wicked Witch. "We worked pretty hard on it," she added giving her son, the Tin Man, credit for the theme. "This is our first Canal Festival. We were pretty excited to come here and be part of it. And we loved it. We'll come again," she said.
Other winners included Molly Farrell and Natalie Connor of Bristol Borough and their Fairies, Flowers and Fantasy boat (judged most beautiful); William Roarity of Levittown, Jester of the Parade (judged most humorous); and Pat Buchanan and Nancy McShane, the Owl and and the Pussycat (Judge's Choice Award).
Among the sweetest entries was Candy Land Express entered by Jen Schujko of Mount Pocono and manned by a group of cousins from Yardley, Levittown and Bensalem.
Participating in memory of family matriarch Lavinia Morley of Morrisville who passed away a year ago, they floated away with the award for Most Imaginative.
A crowd favorite featured Jerry Taylor and Bristol Borough Zoning and Planning Adminsitrator Sally Bellaspica who brought Alice and Wonderland to life with the Mad Hatter and the March Hare.
"We tried to be prim and proper with our tea party," said Bellaspica. "It was so fun. I love this event. It's the best. It's so exciting and it brings the community out."
Their tea party drew the attention of soon-to-be three-year-old Anthony Ditulio III of Bristol who stood on the banks of the lagoon mesmerized by the Mad Hatter.
His mom, Erika, said they attend the festival every year and especially enjoy decorating the ducks. This year they decorated three - a mallard, PAC-Man and a Cheka-themed duck.
But this year it was the Mad Hatter that stole the show, at least for young Anthony.
When Anthony saw the tea party boat, he let out the biggest scream, said his mom, explaining that he loves the Alice in Wonderland movie.
Once on dry land, Anthony was there to give the Mad Hatter a big hug and even got the chance to put on his giant hat.
Following the boat parade, the attention turned to a group of students from Bristol Junior-Senior High School who competed in a cardboard boat contest. The winner was the boat - made only of cardboard and duct tape - that stayed afloat the longest.
That distinction was earned by the team of Jordan Garrison and Brendan McGovern, who stayed afloat for 12 minutes 59 seconds and who circled the lagoon three times before taking on water.
Coming in second were seventh graders Aubrie Clarkson and Madelyne Devine who managed to stay afloat in the Red Bullet for eight minutes 43 seconds, surpassing their estimate of several minutes.
"We were happy it lasted for as long as it did, but we would have been happier if we had won," said the girls. "Next time we need to use more duct tape," they said.
Jason Frey was the first to go in. He agreed with the girls: next time, more duct tape and a little more room for paddling.