SCRANTON — Experienced canoers beware: you’d better not be afraid of the cold for this event.
For the third time, the Lackawanna River Corridor Association, a non-profit dedicated to conserving the Lackawanna River, will be holding its annual ShiverFest on Saturday, Jan. 14.
“We want to show that the Lackawanna River is something people can enjoy 365 days a year, even in the dead of winter,” said Bernie McGurl, executive director of the LRCA.
According to McGurl, ShiverFest is a three-mile kayak race or fun paddle (“whatever you choose to do,” McGurl said) along the stretch of the Lackawanna River between the North Scranton and Pine Brook sections of the city.
Starting at 10 a.m. at the Parker Street launch site in North Scranton, registration will continue until the noon start of the race. From there, it will continue to a point called Sweeney’s Beach, located near Poplar Street and Capouse Avenue.
“It’s a quick event. People don’t want to stay in the ice cold water for very long,” McGurl said regarding how long the race would run. “Good racers that know the river will take 20 to 25 minutes; somebody who wants to take their time would take about 45 minutes.”
After the frigid race, canoers will have plenty of opportunities to warm up. A bonfire will be set up at the end of the race to shake off the ice, and an afterparty, dubbed the Thaw Party, will be held at Backyard Alehouse on Linden Street from 2 to 5 p.m., and will feature food and drinks to help cold canoers get the feeling back in their toes.
McGurl said the LCRA wanted to make ShiverFest an event for the whole community.
“The launch occurs right next to the Parker Street Bridge, and the Parker House will be open for breakfast,” McGurl said. “We invite everyone out for an eye-opener.”
McGurl also said that, for those not wanting to brave the cold water, they can still watch the race, with the best vantage points being any of the various levees that dot the Lackawanna River between the launch point and culmination of the race.
“The best time would be between noon and 12:30,” McGurl said.
In an event like this, safety is important, according to McGurl. He emphasized that this race is only for canoers and kayakers who already know what they’re doing.
“The water will be between 32 and 38 degrees, and it’s a white water river,” McGurl said. “You should have either a wet suit or a dry suit.”
Barring those two things, though, McGurl said you could wear some sort of artificial fabric or wool to keep warm, but absolutely no cotton, as cotton will keep the cold water close to your skin, making for a dangerous situation.
“Other than that, we want people to have fun,” said McGurl.
Tickets for ShiverFest are $30, which gets you a position in the race and into the Thaw Party. If you’re not interested in racing, you can still attend the Thaw Party for $20.
Those interested can register in advance either on the LCRA’s website, www.lcra.org, or from the Eventbrite page for the event, www.lrcashiverfest2017.eventbrite.com.
Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6119
IF YOU GO:
When: Registration starts at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 14, with the race beginning at noon. Thaw Party at Backyard Ale House starts at 2 p.m.
Where: Boats launch from Parker Street in North Scranton.
Tickets: $30 for the race and Thaw Party, $20 for just the Thaw Party