Tahoe Queen wins sternwheeler race as part of Opening Day at the Lake activities | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Tahoe Queen wins sternwheeler race as part of Opening Day at the Lake activities

Staff and wire reports

Trevor Clark / Tahoe Daily Tribune/ Professional Freestyle Moto-X rider Grant Teal flies high above Lake Tahoe Boulevard during the Blue Avenue Block Party on Saturday.

California’s Tahoe Queen won bragging rights by edging Nevada’s M.S. Dixie II on Saturday in the 12th annual Great Lake Tahoe Sternwheeler Race.

The contest between rival tourist boats at North America’s largest Alpine lake is billed as the only sternwheeler race west of the Mississippi River.

Both sternwheelers, which are owned by the same concessionaire company – Aramark, were filled to capacity with party-goers, while spectators lined nearby beaches along the course to watch the “battle of the paddles.”

The California-Nevada border off South Lake Tahoe serves as the start and finish line for the six-mile race. The M.S. Dixie II still leads the series, 7-5. The Queen often bows to her more powerful cousin and still needs a handicap. With South Shore’s Father John Grace providing the blessing and comic Howie Nave the pirate-spirited entertainment, this year the Queen won by 120 feet.

This is despite the Hawaiian Tropics pageant women on board the Dixie to cheer her on.

The sternwheeler race and pageantry were a part of Opening Day Lake Tahoe festivities, a celebration the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority puts on to mark the start of the summer tourist season. Hundreds of people showed up.

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The weekend staged a boat parade, geocaching contest, parasailing competition and block party that closed Highway 50 at Heavenly Village Way.

Merchants in the village seized the opportunity by placing items in sidewalk sales. Vendor tables from bars, restaurants and other assorted local businesses lined both sides of the casino corridor on the Nevada side.

To the beat of a live band, motocross rides performed death-defying feats off a high ramp – high-flying back flips, front flips and kick-out maneuvers to the screaming delight of the crowd.

“I’m glad that’s not my kid,” one woman joked as she watched.

– Tribune staff writer Susan Wood contributed to this Associated Press report.