Lobster crate race a hit with lightweights and heavyweights alike

·4 min read

Aug. 1—Hundreds lined Pavilion Beach and the Park at Fort Point or watched from boats Sunday afternoon as little kids danced on a string of floating lobster crates while grown adults mostly face-planted into the harbor during the inaugural Gloucester Police Department's Lobster Crate Race fundraiser.

More than 100 kids and adults tried to run on the line of crates strung between two floats with varying degrees of success. The event netted $6,255, according to police Lt. Jeremiah Nicastro, who heads up the department's Community Impact Unit. About $1,136 was raised on Sunday and another $5,120 was raised through the crowdfunding website, GoFundMe, he said.

Proceeds are going to the Gloucester Fishermen Athletic Association's campaign to renovate Gloucester High's weight room.

The new center will be dedicated to Greg Swinson, a former Gloucester High football and strength training coach, who died in 2019. The association aims to raise $120,000 for new floors and workout equipment for both male and female athletes at Gloucester High.

Nicastro said the Police Department's Community Impact Unit was lucky to have the support of Mayor Greg Verga and police Chief Ed Conley to allow it to be innovative with community policing programs such as this.

"We never expected this big of a crowd," Nicastro said. "We are going to make this bigger and bigger every year."

Nicastro credited the work Officer Joe Parady did organizing the event "and the countless hours he's put into this for nothing. He does it because he's passionate about Gloucester." Anthony Saputo served as the event's announcer.

Winning runs

The race went off without a hitch on what could be described as a perfect summer day after elevated bacteria levels forced health officials to close the beach on July 14, forcing the postponement of the race, originally scheduled for July 16.

Levels have since dropped to allow swimming and the race to proceed.

"There was a lot of disappointment," Nicastro said, "and I think because we rescheduled it more people got informed and more people got involved and that's why we have the crowd we have today."

The rules were simple. Whoever crossed the most bobbing crates in three minutes before falling completely off into the water would win.

The key to the race was to be a nimble grade-school student with a few making it back and forth a few times. The adults in the municipal and heavy weight divisions did not get quite so far.

Anthony Capone, a student at Beeman Elementary, took the top spot in the Featherweight Division with 280 crates. Alexa Benjamin of Plum Cove Elementary was the top female Featherweight.

Georgana Cauthers took top female in the Lightweight Division for clearing 38 crates.

When asked her secret, Cauthers, an incoming freshman at Gloucester High, said: "I don't know. I just went fast."

"Just run," said Ryan Tarr, 11, who plans to attend the O'Maley Innovation Middle School in the fall. He cleared about 160 crates. "It's really fun. I'm going to do it next year too."

Bryce Silvera of Virginia and Kristen Burnham of Gloucester won the Middleweight Division, while Lesley Mello of Gloucester and Jonathan Smith of Merrimac won the Heavyweight Division.

"Just keep your balance," Smith said of winning with a score of 15 in his division. His young son, Jacoby, scored 39 during the competition.

Silvera hails from Mechanicsville, close to Richmond, but his father is from Gloucester.

"You just have to kind of stay in the middle," Silvera said of his tactic.

Honoring Swinson

Two-time Greasy Pole winner Leonardo Taormina signed up to run the race on Sunday.

"I have got some experience so we'll see how it goes," Taormina said. "Great cause. Mr. Swinson was a teacher of mine in middle school. Unfortunate passing, but you know, going to clean up that facility down at the high school and make it a nice, new place," said the 2013 Gloucester High graduate.

Gloucester Public Works employee Brandon Peavey, who works in facilities maintenance, won in the Municipal Division that included Chief Conley, Harbormaster Thomas "T.J." Ciarametaro, Shellfish Constable Peter Seminara, Deputy Shellfish Constable Rebecca Visnick, and Assistant Health Director Rachael Belisle-Toler along with others from the Police, Fire and Public Works departments. Veterans Services Director Adam Curcuru took the plunge in an American flag tank top and so did Dan O'Connor, the Gloucester High football coach. His son, Riley, 11, also raced earlier.

"It was definitely helpful watching all the guys go before you," said Peavey who stepped on 18 crates. He raced in honor of his father, Don. "I'm coming back next year to defend, too."

"It's amazing to see the turnout of the Gloucester school kids," said Superintendent Ben Lummis who stepped up to race the crates. "Love to see them all out here having fun," said Lummis, "and just so thankful to the Gloucester Fishermen Athletic Association and the Police Department and all the volunteers helping out to make a fantastic effort for Gloucester High School and honoring Greg Swinson."

One of those who did not race was Verga, who was on hand throughout the race.

"I'm observing this year what I need for skills," he laughed about racing next year.