Hit the water, but don’t forget your wetsuit.
Canoers and kayakers once again can take to the Lackawanna River for a chilly ride through Scranton as part of the annual ShiverFest, which raises money for Lackawanna River Conservation Association. The event will take place Saturday, Jan. 19, with the Extreme Kayak/Canoe Race starting at noon and an after-party following from 2 to 5 p.m. at Backyard Ale House, 523 Linden St., Scranton.
The race will kick off at the Parker Street Landing (off East Parker Street in Green Ridge) and end at Sweeney’s Beach just off Green Street in the Pine Brook neighborhood.
LRCA Executive Director Bernard McGurl called the race “a lot of fun to watch.”
“We get about 50 participants on the water, so you’re going to see 50 boats getting paddled down the Lackawanna River in the middle of winter,” he added. “And it’s right through the heart of Scranton, so there’s plenty of room to see it on any of the flood control levees. … There’s lots of places to see it.”
As for those on the water, they seem to enjoy the opportunity to “get out and meet up with some friends and do some crazy wintertime kayaking,” McGurl said, noting that some participants in the past have dressed in costume. Racers must be 18 or older and provide their own watercraft and gear. Race participants can register the day of ShiverFest, but McGurl encourages them to do so in advance.
“We strongly recommend that they have a wetsuit or a drysuit (on), because the water temperature is down in the 30s, and it will get hypothermic if they get in the water,” McGurl said.
Organizers will have a campfire going at the finish line to kickstart the thawing, and then the fun continues at Backyard Ale House, where guests can warm up and enjoy food, drinks, basket raffles, a 50/50 drawing and camaraderie.
The race costs $30 per racer and includes admission to the thaw party. Spectators can view the race for free, but admission to the party for non-racers will cost $20.
“We’re hoping to raise a few hundred dollars at the thaw party,” McGurl said.
Proceeds from ShiverFest benefit LRCA, which recently moved its offices to a former church and rectory in North Scranton, which McGurl said “need lots of modernization and repairs and upgrades.” That includes electrical work and some recent plumping fixes.
“We just did a Giving Tuesday project for our … program, but (this fundraiser) is going into the general fund, and we really need it because we don’t have a lot of grants at the present time,” McGurl said.
The organization also is working on some bigger cleanup projects along the river, is encouraging local municipalities to unite to create a municipal stormwater authority and is “actively engaged in acquiring some new parcels of land, and that will help further development of the (Lackawanna River) Heritage Trail and our partners,” McGurl said — all projects that could benefit from ShiverFest.