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It’s an event that fosters creativity; an event for those who enjoy a challenge. And mostly it’s an event that continues to bring the Lansing community closer together whether it’s sunny or snowing, though the participants always hope for snow.
It’s the Cardboard Classic, an annual cardboard sled-building event hosted by Lansing Community College’s (LCC) radio station, 89.7 WNLZ, the Lansing Parks and Recreation Department and Gier Community Center. The event has nurtured a community of makers and creators in Lansing for the last 12 years.
Despite it being the event’s second year without snow, meaning they were unable to actually test their sleds on the hill, Daedalian Lowry, the current event coordinator and station manager at LCC Radio, said at the end of the day the event is really about the community uniting for a mutual cause. For Lowry and others, it’s a time to support and celebrate the hard work and creativity participants put into their sleds, while having some fun.
“Normally with snow, it’s a time for us to get out and beat that cabin fever,” Lowry said.
Peter Roach of Lansing returned with his family for the second year in a row simply because of the community and the creativity that the event brings out.
“My favorite part about the event is just the way the people act toward each other and are willing to help out,” Roach said. “Everyone wants everyone else to participate and have a good time.”
Don Allen of Lansing has participated in the event for the last five years. He said regardless if there’s snow or not, he enjoys coming to the event year after year for the sheer excitement and curiosity of trying to guess what all the other participants have built.
“Last year we didn’t have any snow. This year we didn’t have any snow, so it’s been kind of a bummer,” said Allen. “The numbers are kind of down as far as sleds in the room, but it’s still fun.”
The event, which was held at Gier Community Center Jan. 27, had an estimated 30 sleds and teams participating.
“The very first year we did this event, I don’t think we had more than 15 or 20 sleds. The best year we’ve had, where we had some good snow, we’ve had over 60 sleds participating. So there’s been some phenomenal years,” Lowry said. “Of course, though, when there’s no snow, obviously the entries seem to go down.”
Regardless of the number of sled entries each year, Anthony Rodebaugh, a Lansing community member who’s judged the event the past two years, said the best part is seeing the enthusiasm, creativity and level of healthy competition the community and participants bring to the event each time.
“In the event there was snow, It’d also be really fun to see what people’s creative drives can come up with from an aesthetic level and an engineering level,” Rodebaugh admits. “But it’s fun, it’s exciting and the children love it. It’s really all about them.”
Although there were no test for durability on the hill, awards were still given out for best design, (“because we felt like it,” Lowry said) and several more specific categories. The award for “fastest sled” was not given out this year due to the uncooperative weather.
Lowry hopes to reschedule a day in the coming weeks for the community to come back and see if participants’ sleds will stay together once they’re pushed down the hill. Check the Cardboard Classic Facebook page for updates.