SCRANTON — Who wants to paddle the Lackawanna in the middle of January? Any takers?
You might have to dodge chunks of floating ice, you know, and your paddle might feel heavier if ice builds up on it.
Still, any takers?
“Last year we had 50 boats in the river,” Bernie McGurl of the Lackawanna River Corridor Association said, remembering the first ShiverFest, held in January 2015. “It really surprised us. We thought we might get five or 10, but they just kept a’coming.”
Experienced kayakers and canoeists who relish the cold — organizers dubbed them “the toughest of the toughest” in a news release — are the folks most likely to take part in this year’s ShiverFest, which features a 2.7-mile “Extreme Kayak & Canoe Race” on the Lackawanna from Parker Street to Sweeney’s Beach.
The race begins at noon, spectators are welcome to cheer on the participants, and all paddlers can expect to be off the water in an hour or 90 minutes, giving them plenty of time for a “Thaw Party” that begins at 2 p.m. at the Hilton Scranton & Conference Center.
Before last year’s race, McGurl said, a large shelf of ice had formed at the finish line, which is at a gravelly beach. “We got a backhoe and smashed up the ice blocks,” he said.
Since this year hasn’t been as cold, thus far there’s only lacy frosting of ice at the river’s edge. “Both the landing and the launch site are wide open,” McGurl said earlier this week.
Participants in the race need to bring their own canoe or kayak, and they should wear either a wet suit, that fits like another layer of skin, or a dry suit, which McGurl described as resembling “a set of coveralls hermetically sealed at the wrists, ankles and neck” so you can wear warm clothing underneath and it will stay dry.
Last year’s event was “totally frivolous and enjoyable,” he said, with some people making it a true race, others paddling in a more relaxed manner and spectators happy to stay dry on the riverbanks.
The $30 fee for participants, which includes a “Thaw Party” from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Hilton Scranton, will benefit the Lackawanna River Corridor Association’s projects, which includes removing invasive knotweed from the river area and building a pavilion at Sweeney’s Beach.
The general public is welcome to the Thaw Party, which costs $20 for non-paddlers and includes food, beverages, music and more.
Participants can preregister for the race at lrcashiverfest2016.eventbrite.com and people can purchase Thaw Party tickets at that website or at the door.
For more information contact 570-347-6311 or [email protected]
Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT
IF YOU GO:
What: ShiverFest Extreme Kayak/Canoe Race
Where: Lackawanna River from Parker Street to Sweeney’s Beach
When: noon to 1:30 p.m. Jan. 16
What: Thaw Party: ShiverFest Celebration
Where: Hilton Scranton and Conference Center
When: 2 to 5 p.m. Jan. 16