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CEDAR LAKE — It did not take long Wednesday afternoon for the competition to begin for the coveted "first to sink" award during the annual cardboard boat race on Cedar Lake.

All three of the boats that set out in the first heat quickly sank. And after a boat shaped as the Titanic headed down toward the lake's bottom in a subsequent heat, the song "My Heart Will Go On" from the "Titanic" movie rang out.

Brothers Michael, 15, and Jacob Eriks, 16, of Lowell hoped to avoid joining the submarine club by naming their lavishly decorated boat "The Floater."

"Because we hope it doesn't sink," Michael said.

It was the third year the brother-brother team took part in the annual Fourth of July event and they hoped to do as well as the times they took awards for style and speed. They said they were after a party boat look this year with the "island" theme of their craft.

There were 21 boats registered for this year's event and competing in categories such as speed, style, first to sink and the most passengers aboard, according to organizers.

The father-daughter team of David and Tali Harris, 11, of Schneider, were returning again this year after each winning the speed competition in their age categories in past years.

Their sleek kayak-style boat drew admirers betting on their win again this year.

David Harris said he decided to take part in the competition after making an unsuccessful attempt in a similar event as a teen growing up in Maryland.

"Our boat sank straight away," he said.

It was the third year competing for 12-year-old Ella Bowling of Cedar Lake.

She competed this year in a small boat with a Superman logo on the front.

"Last year I did Batman and I wanted to keep going with superheroes," she said.

There was a celebrity appearance during this year's event, although the way he tells it, more than his career is dead.

"Beetlejuice is dead you know," said the man dressed and staying in character of the star of the 1988 dark comedy/fantasy film.

He designed a boat, appropriately enough, in the shape of a black coffin. But he had no intention of getting in himself. That job was up to his wife, who was dressed as Lydia from the same film.

"I made it," he said. "I know not to float in it."

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Porter/LaPorte County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.