Volunteers and event attendees were slowly leaving the Fairgrounds. The tables were being broken down, boxes packed, and boats reloaded. The Seacoast tent and the event banner were the only remaining monuments of the Paddle-a-thon. Still, the success and overall fun of the day was evident in the smiles of those leaving. After months of work, time, and effort by staff members and volunteers it had been extremely satisfying to watch the day unfold so wonderfully.
While the morning weather seemed iffy, the warmth held and the rain stayed away. The overcast sky actually made for perfect photography conditions and we were lucky enough to have several talented photographers on hand to capture moments of the day we’d been planning for.
The day began with the Social Paddle, a new addition from last year’s event. A great addition, it turned out, as most participants choose to be a part of it. It was great to have collective of support for the river out on the river together. Better yet, they had a lot of fun.
The paddlers began to return as the Ipswich Ale Tapmobile, Baja Taco Truck, and the Cool Cow Ice Cream Truck finished setting up. Our paddlers had earned their refreshments! Their fundraising efforts will continue to support our work advocating for, restoring, conserving, and educating about the Ipswich River. So many people enjoy exploring our beautiful river, these paddlers did so while helping to ensure its longevity.
Good feelings persisted throughout the day, a combination of good food, good beer, good deeds, and great music. Orville Giddings is well known to Ipswich residents, rightfully so, but those from other towns were delighted to see him perform. The Orville Giddings Trio are welcome upriver anytime!
After lunch, it was time for the Kayak Race, which ended up being something of a misnomer. Several canoes entered the fray, including one with our own Wayne Castonguay in the lead seat. The Ipswich River now has a king and two queens: Jason Heiter, Elodie Severe, and Flinois Arielle. If you see them on a river, congratulate them, their titles are well earned.
After all they’d done for us, Ipswich River Watershed Association was happy to give a shout out to all the participants. Sponsors, volunteers, paddlers and guest. The day would not have been possible without them. In addition to our king and queens, there were a few other paddlers that were recognized. With their luau inspired canoe, Brian and Laurie York won the award for Best Decorated Boat. Next genner Katy Aldrich was awarded her commemorative paddle for the Most Money Raised. Great job, Katy! Painey Metcalf is our Most Inspirational Paddler, he’s a great friend of the river and has been with us for the long haul. Speaking of long hauls, the amazing Aaron Mearns won both our Ripple Award, for raising awareness with the most people, and shares the title of River Trekker with Eric Brisette. Aaron wasn’t sure he’d be able to participate this year, but after his last minute sign-up he was still able to quickly raise funds and get the word out. Aaron put in all the way down in North Reading, but still reached us as the morning paddlers were making their ways back! Read Aaron’s amazing call to action and check out his Paddle-a-thon Instagram story.
Thank you again, to everyone who made the Paddle-a-thon such a definite success!
Check out a video of the start of the race HERE!