Beach games charge through poor weather

Trent Podskalan

Homecoming week holds many traditions that have been around for a number of years and one of the many traditions is Dead River Games, which kicks-off Homecoming week.Special Events Coordinator Jordan Paquet, a junior public relations major, said despite the cold, rainy weather this year, over 60 groups participated in the Dead River Games that were held Sunday, Sept. 15.

For one segment of the obstacle course, competing students had to get down on all fours to crawl under tape in the wet sand on Superior’s shore. (Photo: Katie Stumman)
For one segment of the obstacle course, competing students had to get down on all fours to crawl under tape in the wet sand on Superior’s shore. (Photo: Katie Stumman)

Brittany Voich, resident adviser of Shady Grove house in Hunt Hall and senior elementary education major, said she was nervous about getting residents to go due to the weather but was pleased with the turnout.

“People don’t want to do things when it’s crummy weather outside,” Voich said. “I was surprised at how many people showed up.”

Voich said a lot of people weren’t even sure if Dead River Games was still on due to the weather.

“I had residents go around and say it was still on,” Voich said. “We all just met and dressed warm. It was a good time.”

Paquet said because Dead River games is a Homecoming tradition, it’s not an event that can be switched up too much.

“If we were to change it a lot, yeah, you would still get the amount of numbers but I don’t think people would enjoy it as much,” Paquet said. “I mean, ice cream drop, you can’t really beat that. Some things are instilled in Homecoming that you can’t mess with.”

But, Paquet said, tweaking the minor details isn’t a big issue and that’s just what they did this year. The obstacle course was different from year’s past and Paquet said it was time for a change.

“As I started planning Homecoming with the committee members, a number of people said they were sick of [the obstacle course] too, always having to set up the exact same thing,” Paquet said. “You get all the freshmen that have never done [Dead River Games] but you get all the sophomores and juniors or seniors that come just to watch.

“It’s fun to see something different each year and then you can’t strategize.”

Paquet said besides the use of the alligator, everything in the lineup this year was different. Teams began the obstacle course with balancing an egg on a spoon where they would then tag someone who would army crawl in the dirt and mud.

From there, another team member would use Homecoming cups to fill a designated bucket and, once full, would tag the fourth team member to crab walk back and forth three times to grab ping pong balls. The fifth leg of the race required a team member to find specific items in a mini pool. Race anchors had to dash 20 meters to an inflatable alligator which, according to Paquet, ended up floating in its own moat.

But Paquet said that may be the last time anyone will see the alligator at the Dead River Games.

“I guess what had happened in the first few rounds is that somebody jumped on the alligator a little too hard and the entire mouth of it just blew out,” Paquet said. “So the alligator’s dead now so we’re not able to use it anymore.”

Anthony Wilson, president of Tau Kappa Epsilon and junior secondary education major, said he thought this year’s obstacle course was a lot harder and more messy than in year’s past.

“Last year with the syrup, you were able to slide across the tarps,” Wilson said. “But this one you actually had to crawl and the crab walk was hard for people so I think this one was more challenging and more fun.”

Paquet said the water crashing onto the beach actually added a new level of difficulty in the obstacle course.

“It was funny to watch them because all of the water kept coming up onto the beach and flooding everything,” Paquet said. “So they had to crawl through different things and stuff while being in the water.”

Voich and Paquet both said the ice cream scoop is their favorite event. Paquet also said the rule that a participant’s shoulder blades could not leave the ground was enforced more this year so it was more messy.

Paquet said Jilbert Dairy donated the ice cream. This year’s flavors were blue moon, Mackinaw Island fudge, classic vanilla and rocky road.

Paquet said the sand sculpture competition was canceled because water kept invading the beach and due to the lack of available beach.

Paquet said he thinks it’s the event itself that keeps people coming back year after year.

“Any excuse students have to go with friends to the beach and participate in a fun day of games will always attract a good crowd,” Paquet said.

Voich said Dead River Games is an event that continues to have an impact on the student body.

“It’s a tradition,” Voich said. “It really is a lot of fun getting to see a large university come together to have competitive spirit. It’s really fun to see people bond over that.”