“We had approximately 110 entries,” said Melissa Heyer, who runs the Winterfest Cardboard Sled Race for the sponsor Coldwell Banker Rycenga Real Estate Inc. of Grand Haven.
“That’s probably close to our average, although we had only 84 last year,” she said. “Considering the weather, it was an awesome showing.”
Winds gusting up to 40 mph kept the low 20s temperature feeling a lot colder and caused occasional whiteout conditions on the ski hill where the races were being held.
Racers lining up at the top had to grab a hold of their sleds and turn their heads away as the wind blew freshly fallen snow into their faces.
The crowd continued to grow at the bottom of the hill as the races heated up and the sleds crashed and rolled.
Mark and Sarah Bailey said they never had any second thoughts about the weather when they brought their Muskegon brood into town.
“We worked too hard on the sled,” they agreed.
Sarah planned to ride the “Smore Speed” sled with her children, Xavier, 11 and Nadia, 8, while their friend, Amelia Luft, 7, watched.
“I’m in charge of the camera and hauling the sled,” Mark said.
The sled – more reminiscent of a summer campfire scene than a blizzard – has been on the coffee table for the past few days, he said.
“It took us a solid 35 hours to build,” said Sarah, who got the idea for a sled by looking at pictures on the Internet.
A group of crash test dummies waited for their fourth rider as they got into line.
Dave Miller of Spring Lake was still trying to dig out and get out of his driveway after Friday night’s almost foot-deep snowfall.
“He said he’s going to make it,” said Darren Petterson of Grand Haven, lead sled man. Also on the team were Andy Petterson of Chicago and Wayne Rumbel of Flint.
Petterson said they had been working on the sled for a couple of days.
“We rode this last year (as Dead Celebrities),” he said.
The previous year his crew was the Jamaican Bob Sled team.
One of the more creative entries came apart before the creators could even get into line.
The wind created havoc with Craig and Danielle Parrent as they and their children tried to attach the shade portion to their 18-foot tall Leg Lamp sled.
The crowd oohhed, and then sighed in disappointment as the leg bent in half and broke under the weight of the shade and wind before it could be pushed upright.
“I never intended it to be this big,” Craig said.
The family, including children Morgan, 12, Ryann, 10 and Jaxon, 7, took what was left of the sled – the lower leg and shoe — and still made several runs down the hill.
The Leg Lamp took second place in the Top of the Hill Awards for good-looking sleds.
Taking first place was the giant tank. Third place went to the Sombrero Team.
The spirit award went to the Crash Test Dummies.
The adult speed award went to Steffle Design.
The Vogue Award, for the best and most intricate sled design went to the dragon, or “Sierra Nevada,” as builder Duane Schroeder called it.
“That’s the same color as the beer we were drinking when we made it,” he chuckled.
Schroeder has been doing the sled race for 16 years. Last year he was part of a crew of Elvises in a Pink Cadillac.
Riding with him on the sled were Nancy Justema, Shelley Smart and Joyce Tiles.
See the full story in Monday's print and electronic editions of the Grand Haven Tribune.