On June 21, 1952, the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) Regatta was held on Onondaga Lake for the first time. For the previous 50 years, it had been hosted primarily on the Hudson River at Poughkeepsie.
The official program cost 50 cents. In 1952 Nash Ramblers were the official regatta cars. The program included ads from Syracuse China, Schlitz Beer, Nettleton Shoes, Ballantine Beer and New Process Gear. The program touted “Giant G-E Loudspeakers Announce Races.” They used a ship-to-shore radio communications systems from General Electric, that was valued at more than $5,000.
In June 1978, Syracuse University’s eight-man varsity crew won its first national IRA Championship in half a century in front of a hometown audience at Onondaga Lake. In the 1990s, the IRA Regatta left Onondaga Lake for Camden, N.J.