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Showing they've got real pull

June 26, 2005|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

HANCOCK - A quick finish wasn't the only goal at Saturday's Barge Bash at the C&O Canal National Historical Park.

Looking cute - or ugly - earned points. So did drawing smiles and being organized.

Competitors' barges floated along the quarter-mile course. The only energy source allowed was at the end of a rope - humans, animals or anything motorless could tug from the towpath, just like in the old days.

Event chairwoman Penny Pittman, president of the Hancock Chamber of Commerce, said this was the Barge Bash's third year.

The first team, the C&O Canal Bike Patrol, finished much faster than any other group. About a dozen people in orange vests on bicycles pulled the Carla B barge across the finish line in 1 minute, 15.36 seconds.

In other categories, the judging panel - Del. Kevin Kelly, D-Allegany; Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Washington/Allegany; and Corey Stottlemyer, an assistant to Myers - had leeway.

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They gave the "best use of humor" prize to "Lion's Raft," which had an "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" flag and theme.

They gave "Big John's Mean Green Machine," designed to look like a John Deere tractor, the award for "cutest barge."

Thanks to the brawn and quick feet of Jess Hager, Brandon Hill, Dave Burk and Damien Hinckle, "Big John's Mean Green Machine" had the second-fastest time of the day, 2 minutes, 55 seconds.

"Lazy Days of Summer," the Citizens National Bank entry, won "most authentic historic barge recreation."

"Lazy Days of Summer" had a choppy moment - the boat and President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Rokisky, the captain, briefly dipped into the water.

Rokisky shrugged it off as a good thing.

"It was hot and I wanted to get wet," he said.

During their run, Billie Jean Sipes and Jean Pittman of the Interfaith Service Coalition fell from the "Christian Crusaders" barge - which was pulled by a horse on the towpath - into the water.

"The horse started pulling real fast and the front (of the boat) went in," Sipes said. A homemade castle prop on the boat toppled over.

On a day when each entrant earned one prize or another, the judges picked "Christian Crusaders" as the ugliest barge.

Kelly jokingly wondered if that was a mistake.

"If we call the Christian Crusaders ugly, we'll never make it to heaven," he told the crowd.

The Hancock Arts Council made an impression with its barge, "An Artist's Impression," which received "most memorable barge tow team."

Walking alongside three men who tugged, Carolyn and Mike Kligerman played a Swedish wedding march on violins.

On the barge - and behind it, where simulated lily pads and ducks followed - the theme was Monet, Susan Lothars said. She and Phil Edwards sat in front of an easel in the boat.

Spectators liked seeing smoke gush from the stacks on a barge designed like a riverboat.

It was Dan Murphy's boat, steered and tugged by people who work at his veterinary practice. Only Tammy Fox's head and shoulders were visible as she captained the boat from the back.

Kelly said the judges felt they should give an award to Murphy, Hancock's mayor, "or he's going to raise your taxes," so they did. It was called "The Judges' Award."

Athena Accounting Services played on its Greek name and its work for the theme of its barge, "Athena Accounting Tax-i Service."

Young men in togas tugged. A boy and a girl inside held a goblet and a plate of grapes.

Before giving Athena Accounting Service the award for best organizational theme and the People's Choice award, Kelly quipped, "It's like a remake of 'Animal House.'"

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