LA CROSSE, WIS — This summer, the La Crosse Queen paddle boat will be fitted with a new defense accessory: two Mark 7, 16-inch, 50-caliber guns.
The sightseeing and excursion boat that ports and operates out of Riverside Park is a modern-day replica of the grand boats that traversed the Mississippi River during the late 19th century. In keeping with early traditions, the replica is one of only a few paddle boats that purely use the split and stern wheel as their only means of propulsion.
Over the past decade, the La Crosse Queen has faced competition from several other replica paddle wheel boats making their way up the Mississippi from Missouri, Tennessee and Louisiana. These new boats are cutting into the very narrow paddle wheel patrons market.
“It’s become a cut-throat business,” said La Crosse Queen owner Pimento McJazzercise. “This stretch of the Mississippi from Genoa on up up Winona is our territory, and I’ll be damned if we’re gonna let some rogue southern steamboat come on up in here and take our La Crosse area citizens out on a nice river ride!”
McJazzercise then claimed that the other paddle boats’ paddles are purely cosmetic as they propel themselves with large submerged propeller motors. It was this knowledge that made McJazzercise move forward in arming the La Crosse Queen. A decision that spared no expense.
“We were able to accrue and re-purpose a couple The Mark 7s that were retired from an old World War II Navy destroyer vessel,” McJazzercise continued. “We lost a little bit of seating when we mounted them on the boat, but what we lose in seat money I am confident we will earn back when we completely eliminate the competition.”
McJazzercise is referring to the Mark 7’s awesome power in being able to penetrate up to 30 feet of concrete, which is the equivalent of approximately 90 enemy paddle boats.
“We now have the world’s first fully operational battle destroyer,” McJazzercise boasted. “Nothing can stop us now.”
Reporter Dr. Jonathon H. Dong contributed to this article.