Quasi founders the Bavarian Inn’s Lori Payne and Bill Zehnder began this a local event and expanded to include their motto “any one and every one, paddle or swim”. Each year Michigan’s wood canoe club has participated yet wanted to further endorse the use of the river by co-sponsoring the event.
We quickly recognized the numerous groups that gathered for this fun outdoorsy experience. Noticed were: The boy scouts and their leaders with the many canoes they supplied, *Riley’s “Runyakers”, eleven swimmers, Wood canoe club, and the numerous families that paddled together. For example, the McDowell’s of Davison MI. This would be six sisters and their Mom. Of the sisters making the entire paddle with Mom Tracey included Noel, Haley, Sidney and Cassidy.
And of course the many families and friends that paddled together or as singles, doubles, etc. The day was beautiful with sunshine and temps in the lower 70’s accompanied by a slight breeze. Wild life sightings reported were: Two American Bald Eagles, a fawn, marsh rabbits, many turtles and 1 Jackalope (oh really?).
*Note: The 15 “Runyakers” ran 5.3 miles from heritage park to the village of Tuscola, boarded their kayaks and paddled back to Frankenmuth, led by the world’s longest runyaker Riley McLincha (Flint MI to Niagara Falls). They chose to celebrate National Runyaking Day at our 5th annual paddle and swim.
The MI wood canoe club (wcha.org) co-sponsored the event and furnished food and beverages. A Bratwurst and a soda pop to every person finishing at the Heritage Park Canoe launch. The final count was a total of 71 participants. Frankenmuth Jaycees furnished the intense labor force staffing the brat stand including Sarah Mahoney, Luke McClure and Kieshan Counts.
The wood canoe club featured 11 wood canoes and kayaks on display in Heritage Park where the event’s social took place. Many of those canoes participated in the 5-mile paddle event. These beauties consisted of canoes as old as 111 years (1905) to newer ones built recently (2014).
Thanks of course to the many that volunteered and staffed the pontoon boats assisting swimmers and paddlers as needed throughout the 5-mile route. In appreciation- Wood canoe club volunteers Laurie and Seth Vukonich, Dave & Roxie Wermuth, Jan & Steve Szymanski, Janette and Bill Hart.