ROME (WITI) -- You know the saying "one man's trash is another man's treasure." Folks in Rome, Wisconsin couldn't agree more! It is a town that's known for taking out its trash in spectacular fashion.
All roads lead to Rome, it was once said -- but if you arrive in the town of 689 residents, you will find it's not the road, but the river that will take you where you really want to go.
It is nature -- quiet and calm 364 days a year. But on one day every summer, this town holds a "regatta."
"It's just fun. It's just -- people like to get together and have a good time," Pat Clarke said.
"We go down the river dressed like we would on Halloween," Maureen Hilger said.
"There's nothing else to do in this town, so people come and check this out," Dennis LaFave said.
It is less of a race, and more of a homemade parade of misfit barges, dinghys buckets, floats and boats.
"Some colorful people!" Clarke said.
"It's just something fun and stupid to do," Tim Cull said.
Some crafts are better than others.
"The minute they got in the water, the whole thing just fell apart!" Brenda Hoffman said of one of the crafts.
Ending up in the drink doesn't keep you from taking one -- but each raft has its own story.
"We had to think of something cute and we came up with frogs," Hilger said.
One was designed from a page right out of history.
"Went in the woods, got eaten by mosquitoes, got the sticks, screwed it all together. I got one copper fitting. This is the expense of the whole float right here. It's about $2.50. Otherwise, it's all junk," Cull said.
Courtesy of Fred's two feet, Cull's float works on both land and water.
"Yabba Dabba Doo! Foot power! We don't need wheels," Cull said.
What you can see floating in the water during the annual regatta is the town's sense of humor.
"I wanted to get down here quick to see the Flintstones float coming down!" Hoffman said.
Neighbors line the banks of the river to watch the recycled rafts float by.
Dennis LaFave is the heckler. He is heard heckling those on their rafts -- saying things like:
"Is airhead the name of the boat or the owner?"
"Spin that sucker around."
"That's a good idea until you have to pee. Then you got a problem."
The regatta is the brainchild of Pat Clarke. Clarke owns Pickets -- the general store where they serve hot ham and rolls at the river's edge.
"I decided one day when I was laying in bed, wouldn't it be nice to get a bunch of people together, and build a float out of something recyclable?" Clarke said.
Clarke wanted to spread the word that the river is worth seeing and protecting -- but needed a way to draw people to the water.
"Every year it's getting bigger. I was impressed to see how many people again this year came out," Hoffman said.
As more and more people find out about the regatta and the Bark River's beauty, they're finding out that maybe there's a twist on that old truism -- at least one day every year, all floats led to Rome.
Rome is also home to "The World's Greatest Junk Parade." That departs from town every Labor Day -- and heads down the road into Sullivan.
CLICK HERE to visit the Rome Regatta's Facebook page!