Videos and news coverage of the Amphicars that splashed down in Grand Lake St. Marys during the 2011 Celina Lake Festival.
The crowd gathers along the shore of Lakeshore Park’s hot water hole. People stacked several deep, crane their necks to get a peek as the car begins to roll down the embankment. Cheers erupt as the front bumper sends a wave of water rushing toward the onlookers.
The Amphicar Swim-In signals that the annual Celina Lake Festival is in full swing. The event is awash with creativity — from cars decked out as the Batmobile to license plates that read simply, “HAFBOAT.”
“I’ve had this car for about 38 years and another one for a little over 40 years,” Gary Reichert said. “I’ve had them before they were a novelty. I just like them. They’re just unusual.”
Celina’s event is one of nearly a dozen such gatherings across the country, promoted by the International Amphicar Owners Club. Dozens of Amphicars lined up along Lakeshore Drive to take their plunge, one-by-one, into Grand Lake St. Marys. The bigger the splash, the bigger the cheers.
Reichert makes it a tradition to come down from his home near Milwaukee for the annual summer gathering.
“It just seems that the people are really friendly. I’m glad we can share this and somebody appreciates it,” Reichert said. “They don’t see this all the time either. They’re helping us and we’re helping them.”
The Swim-In is one of a multitude of events at this year’s Lake Festival, which runs through Sunday. The three-day event includes a new water ski show, crafts and other vendors, rides, entertainment, a traditional car show and fireworks.
The swim-in, now in its 18th year, has become one of the signature events.
Coming to Celina for the swim-in has become a bit of a tradition for Ed Koops, of Holland, Mich. The vehicle, which drives on land and water, had always been an interest, Koops said.
“Well, I’d seen one as a kid in a local park by the lake and it just always stuck in my mind. Of course, I read about them,” Koops said. “Then we bought a cottage on the far side of the lake in Holland. We were sitting there having coffees and I thought, ‘Boy, it’d be nice if I had an Amphicar I could just drive right now, get up the other side, go to our house in town and wouldn’t have to go over the bridge.’”