The Niagara River Greenway Commission announces the seventh annual "Paddles Up Niagara" will take place along the southeastern shores of Grand Island on Saturday, July 28.
Beaver Island State Park, along with the Town of Grand Island, Anchor Marine and WEKANU, will host the day's activities with the centerpiece being the non-competitive paddle from the Little Beaver Launch site around to East River Marsh site, returning back to Little Beaver, all within the Beaver Island State Park - a 4.8-mile journey.
The day begins with a Poker Run at 7 a.m. launching at East River Marsh around Strawberry Island followed by the Paddle Fair commencing at 8:30 a.m. During the Paddle Fair portion of the event, paddle sports retailers and company representatives will be on hand to give the public an opportunity to try out canoes and kayaks. Beginners and enthusiasts alike will also have the opportunity to learn more about paddle sports safety and the natural, recreational and cultural attributes of the Niagara River corridor.
Jeff and Laura Liebel will present a freestyle and rescue demonstration, and a "Sprint Competition" will take place in Little Beaver Island Lagoon.
"Paddles Up Niagara 2012" will begin after a traditional Native American Departure Ceremony at 11:30 a.m.
The phrase "paddles up" is derived from a long-standing Native American custom. When approaching camp, canoe paddles were pointed skyward signifying that the traveler comes in peace and is seeking permission to land for food and rest. In some cultures the upward pointed paddle also symbolizes the start of a long journey.
The first 100 paddle-powered boaters to register will receive a free "Paddles Up Niagara 2012" T-shirt.
All on-water participants will be required to register and complete the necessary waiver forms. Boat crews must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device, and the condition of each participating canoe and kayak will be checked to insure that it can safely transit the "Paddles Up Niagara" water trail.
All of the day's activities are free, including registration for "Paddles Up Niagara"; the exception is a lunch fundraiser and tour of the Historic River Lea Site, where a prepaid donation of $14 is required.
Normal State Park entrance fees will apply. Upon entering Beaver Island State Park, participants should take the first right toward the sledding hill or Little Beaver for parking and launching.
To receive or download registration forms for "Paddles Up Niagara," visit www.niagaragreenway.org or call the NRGC office at 773-5361.