First Generation Great Raft Racer Teams Up With Daughter


Wednesday, September 2nd 2015, 6:56 pm
By: News On 6


The Great Raft Race created lots of memories for those who floated the river years ago, for the Labor Day tradition.

This year, the return of the race will allow one father-daughter team to make a new memory together.

Don Nelson is getting ready for the Great Raft Race after a forty-year break; he floated the first three in 1973, 1974 and 1975.

In 1973 a picture of his raft made it in the newspaper; but missing from that photo is Leslie, Don's daughter, who was too young when the raft race was new, but when she heard the raft race was coming back, she jumped in with both feet.

“When I heard it was coming back I thought I don't think I can miss it this time," she said.

Considering everything, she thought it might be easier to just buy something that floats rather than build something that might float, and left the pre-race planning to her dad – he’s already developed a strategy.

Don Nelson: "Just past the bridge is the take-out point," he explained.

Leslie said she’s excited about the experience.

"I'm looking forward to floating the river and seeing the city from that perspective," she said.

The Great Raft Race began in 1973 and continued through 1990 as a fun way to enjoy the Arkansas

River, and now the original rafters can pass the experience along.

Leslie said everyone on their raft will be dressed as characters from the TV show Gilligan's Island.