ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE CLAREMORE DAILY PROGRESS BY CYDNEY BARON - 9/4/2017
Sea shanties? Check.
Jolly Rogers flag? Check.
Sea-worthy crew? Check.
The Claremore Collective crew is ready to hit the Arkansas River again for the Great Raft Race.
For the second year, the Collective has constructed a raft to enter in the race's Pokie Okie contest.
The race is held Labor Day weekend and historically has drawn thousands of participants and spectators. The Collective's race team, called the Jolly Rogers, is excited to represent Claremore.
Meggie Froman-Knight said it was exciting to participate in a project that gets everyone's creative juices flowing in a new way.
This project is a fun way of showing off local resources and talents.
"Hydrohoist donates the pontoon, which is a huge help," she said. "It's been a learning opportunity for us, learning the process of how these are made. And this is a manufacturer that we have in our own backyard."
She said the team has spent between 60 and 80 hours on the project—not to mention the off-site work like graphic design and drafting blueprints.
With a project of this scale, she said everyone had a chance to shine.
For this crew, the project is about more than just building a raft, more than just participating in a race.
"We're all really excited about being a part of the Great Tulsa Raft Race again this year. Young professionals in the Claremore area came together to form Claremore Collective in January of 2016. We are a group of people who share at least one thing in common: a passion for Claremore. We are all involved in our community and have always built relationships with each other through our shared passion, but participating in the Great Tulsa Raft Race is a chance for us to grow together in more of a fun and relaxed environment," Jake Krumwiede said. "And, with our participation in events like the raft race, we are representing Claremore in the greater Tulsa area, showing people that, while Claremore is small compared to places like Tulsa, it is still a great place to live."
Another Collective member, Matt Ballard said “we’re definitely going for style points on this one. I think people will like the raft we’re putting together.
He said, as an attorney it’s been an interesting experience—I’m listening to engineers and people with building backgrounds that are very mechanically-minded and I’m completely out of my element.”
Ballard said he is impressed by the talent found within the group—and the sense of camaraderie.
Every sea vessel needs a captain—of the Jolly Rogers, that hat belongs to Brian O'Dell.
Technically, O'Dell is serving as the Raft Race Chairman this year. The crew agrees he's been an integral part of keeping the project moving in the right direction.
O'Dell said HydroHoist gave them a great base to build from, and he's happy his own business, Blue Arc Metal Specialties, had space and tools available to host the building portion of the project.
"Everyone has their own skill set and ideas and we threw it all together," he said. "We went over the top and had a few cool ideas. We recently all pitched in and got a ship's wheel that will be operational and tie back to the rudder so one of us will be at the helm driving this thing down the river."
O'Dell said watching the design come together was fun, but the fellowship was his favorite part, just watching everyone come together.
"We are going to take it to Claremore Lake for a dry run, or wet run rather, before race day," he said.
No matter how they do in the race, Krumwiede said it's been a fun ride.
"I always thought that these nights when we all get together to build our raft is sort of a microcosm of what Claremore Collective is as a whole. We are just a bunch of people who have a vision for Claremore, and together, we are building that vision, one piece at a time. Everyone has different skills and talents. It takes all of us.”