When I was a wee lass, my dad had an idea to promote his business (a service station/convenience store called The Red Barn) by hosting a huge contest during a halftime at our local high school basketball game.
He called it his "Red Barn Fliers" contest.
He would pass out a piece paper to every one in the room.
Each person was to write their name and phone number on their paper and fold it into the most aerodynamic shape possible.
Then, in the center of the basketball court he would place an empty pizza box.
He announced that the plane(s) who made it closest to the pizza box would receive awards.
Like a free pizza, for instance.
He gave the signal and hundreds of paper planes took to the air, gliding through the gymnasium like doves. Some flew up in the rafters, some flew into the floor. Some wooshed over to the pizza box only to suddenly turn and woosh back to their masters.
I don't remember the out come, but it sure was a thing of beauty to watch all of those planes filling up the empty space of the gymnasium.
I have reminisced about this contest many times since then, admiring my dad's knack for out-of-the-box (or should I say in-the-box?) advertising strategies.
Because it was such an exciting memory for me I've tried to recreate this contest several times with groups of kids, always with successful outcomes.
So when I was visiting my in-laws and I had six excited, boisterous wee lassies (ages 5 to 11) buzzing around me for six days I knew an activity that they would all enjoy.
Contest rules are simple:
You get two pieces of paper to decorate.
Then you fold it into a paper airplane (some adult help was required here.)
Throughout the process there was much singing.
And many thoughtful moments of inspiring creativity.
They had a couple of test flights,
and then it was time for the real thing.
First there would be a beauty contest. All the planes lined up, vying to be the fairest one of all. Winners were awarded.
But there is more to a plane than its fancy paint job. The REAL contest was about to begin.
The girls had to throw their planes from up here ....
....down to the hula hoop below.
The plane(s) who came the closest would win!
My little Amelia Earharts took their spots on the balcony and let their planes loose....
...into the wild blue yonder.
We did this several times, including a contest a contest to see whose plane could stay aloft for the longest amount of time and the one who could fly the furthest.
There were prizes for the winners and candy for everyone.