River Commission reschedules events due to unsafe river conditions

By Calla Vassilopoulos - Staff Writer
East Windsor - posted Wed., Jul. 3, 2013
Water covers Melrose Trails at the Scantic River State Park in early June, causing the American Heritage River Commission to cancel its 'Fun Paddle Day' on June 9. Courtesy photo. - Contributed Photo

The American Heritage River Commission in East Windsor is known for hosting many activities throughout the summer such as hiking, canoeing, kayaking and racing cardboard boats. This year's weather conditions have delayed and even canceled events such as a “Fun Paddle Day," when residents bring canoes or kayaks to travel down the river, the cardboard boat race and the rubber duck race.

“The river has to be safe,” said Chairman Richard Sherman. “If the river is very, very dirty, which it has been, when you put your foot in the water and 3 inches down you can't see your foot, to me that's not safe.”

When the water level reaches a certain height, it begins to accumulate debris from the land, according to Sherman. If a person falls into the dirty water, it can cause injuries due to branches or sharp objects, which have traveled into the water. The lack of clarity can also make it difficult for drivers of boats to see debris underneath the water and maneuver around it, which can cause the boat to be trapped and in some cases turn over.

“When we have the canoe race or even the duck race, we've got people in boats that are not really experts, they are novices, and I can't take a chance,” said Sherman.

Sherman explained when it rains north of East Windsor, it can take a while to get to the area where the events are held. On June 9, the commission canceled the “Fun Paddle” because the water was so high that approximately 10 bridges floated onto land. The group is now working to put them back in place, with the help of volunteers, but that too has been difficult due to slippery and muddy conditions by the river.

“Fun Paddle Day" has not been rescheduled, but the commission hopes to host another day for residents to bring their canoes and kayaks for a trip down the river this summer. The cardboard boat race and rubber duck race have been rescheduled for Sunday, July 14, assuming river conditions have improved by then. The ducks will line up at noon and the race will begin at 1 p.m. Those participating in the cardboard boat race will have the opportunity to register from 1 to 1:45 p.m. and the race will begin at 2 p.m.

“We try to call it as close as we can,” said Sherman. “We try to take everybody's consideration into account.”

In the event of another cancellation, information will be posted on the American Heritage River Commission Facebook page and there will be a sign where the event is scheduled to be held, at the corner of Mill Street and Church Street, where the old filter bed area was located.

For questions or concerns about the cardboard boat race and other commission events, e-mail ahriver@sbcglobal.net.

For more information on the rubber duck race, organized by the East Windsor BMX Skate Park Committee, call Brenda Crockett at 860-370-9595.

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