On This Day in IUPUI History: April 16, 1977

April 16, 1977. 

On this day, the First Annual Circle City Circuit staged its First Annual Canoe Race at Eagle Creek Park on Indianapolis's west side. Race heats began late in the morning, and involved a two-hundred-yard sprint with one turn. According to promotional literature for the race, "Look for lots of spills, chills, and flying water amidst screams and shouts [for] help as the teams scramble to the finish line." Organizers also scheduled a "VIP race" of local TV celebrities.

The race was just one part of a week-long "festival" dubbed the Circle City Circuit. Organizers explicitly aimed to create a tradition for everyone on the campus and focus attention on the young university. An international dinner at the Union Building commenced the Circuit, followed by a classical-music concert, a flea market, the Ice Cream Social, outdoor concerts, the annual Afro-American Conference, and more. As well, Herron celebrated its 75th anniversary. 

The event was the brainchild of IUPUI Student Association, the student government body, which hoped that the canoe race "would stress competition and perhaps become an annual affair. IU-Bloomington has its bicycle race and PU-West Lafayette has a go-kart contest but IUPUI has no similar traditional exercise in fun and purpose."

According to the Sagamore, the IUPUI student newspaper, the canoe race was a "splashing success." Students Mark Finch and Lee Hooper won the race. The newspaper quoted one participant to say, "I didn't win, but boy, did I have a fun time. I can't wait until next year."

The Circle City Circuit continued for several more years, but died out. In 2008 IUPUI commenced its Regatta, a canoe race on the canal in downtown Indianapolis. The Regatta has become a major event in the school year.

Bike race at Circle City Circuit, nd UA24-005017s

To learn more about the Circle City Circuit and the history canoe races at IUPUI, consult records in IUPUI Special Collections and Archives speccoll@iupui.edu

Updated Apr 16, 2019 by Editor Name Missing