By KATIE LIBECCO
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
SHARON, Pa. -- Hundreds of families gathered along the Shenango River on Friday to watch as 25 homemade ships floated through the downtown area.
It was all a part of the 25th annual Small Ships Revue at the Best Wings USA complex.
The evening begin with a kickoff parade at 6 p.m., which started at the Penn State softball field and traveled a short route through downtown Sharon. Event coordinators estimated about 8,000 people came to downtown Sharon for the revue and parade.
After the parade, the ships were launched into the Shenango River, with help from the Sharon High football team and Quaker Steak employees.
The idea for the Small Ships Revue originated after the founders of Quaker Steak & amp; Lube, George Warren and Gary Meszaros, visited a similar show with tall ships at New York Harbor. They brought the idea home, with a few original twists.
The Small Ships Revue is a "build your own boat -- anything floats regatta" and is open to everyone.
Entries must be under 15 feet tall, to fit under bridges, and they must be man-powered. Also, all occupants of the ships are required to wear life preservers.
Entries were from private and corporate groups. Some organizations participating were: KOI Plumbing, Georgia City Lights, Fields of Valor Paintball, RC's Marina, Falling Angels Rock Climbing and Rappelling, Cinema 8, Burkland Floral and Tully's.
Entrants in the Small Ship Revue competed for $5,000 in cash and prizes.
The first-place small boat was Georgia City Light's entry "Georgian's Island." Pepsi sponsored the $1,000 award.
Second place and $500 were awarded to "Liberty Queen" from Hayne Welding, sponsored by Miller.
Cinema 8's "War of the Worlds" ship received Red Hot's third place and $250.
The "Plumbing Problems" small ship entered by KOI Plumbing received the Most Unique Award sponsored by Jack Daniel's.
RC's Marina received the Quaker Steak & amp; Lube's award for the most patriotic ship. "Salute to the Red, White and Blue" featured elaborate red, white and blue sails and Uncle Sam.
Y103 gave an award for the small ship that had the most visible support of the radio station. The award went to Falling Angels Rock Climbing and Rappelling with their "Y103 Floating Poker Tour."
Entertainment included a performance by the Hern Brothers, Simply Ed Karaoke and a fireworks display.