The Niagara River Greenway Commission hosted the fifth annual Paddles Up event on July 24th. It was held at Beaver Island State Park, at the southern end of Grand Island. The event featured people in canoes and kayaks, who followed a preset course in the Niagara River. I joined Larry Austin, the editor of the Island Dispatch, on a dock near River Lea. We watched the canoes and kayaks and we took pictures of the boats as they passed us. Most of the canoes and kayaks went around the dock but some of the smaller ones went right underneath. A few pulled up to shore, and the occupants then pronounced themselves to be too tired to continue to the end of the course. Well, of course, that was OK that they were tired, even though they got treated to the sight of a guy wearing a tee-shirt that commanded them to “paddle faster.” When asked why he was not in a canoe or a kayak but was merely standing on the dock, Mr. Paddle Faster (I don’t know his real name so he gets the honor of being renamed) said that he had participated in the Poker Run at seven o’clock in the morning. That’s kind of early. I guess that his paddling time had expired.
After the paddling experience, Paddles Up participants could come to River Lea for a delicious lunch at the low price of eleven dollars per person. The lunch was sponsored by the Grand Island Historical Society. I was happy to help out with the preparation for the lunch and with tours of River Lea. In fact, quite a few people took advantage of the open house.
Paddles Up participants could enjoy their meal outside, in an open tent. A group of young people, very nicely attired in Expensive Restaurant Waiter garb, made sure that there was always plenty of food at the serving line. The food had been provided by McMahon’s Family Restaurant on Grand Island Boulevard.
Many of the paddlers said that they had a good time at Paddles Up and at River Lea. For some of them, it was their first visit to the house, which had been built in 1873, at a time when Grand Island was considered to be the playground of Buffalo’s wealthier citizens.
Another fine touch to the afternoon’s events was Robin Shipman and her daughter walking around the grounds of River Lea in period costume. They also held parasols. They looked very delightful and nineteenth century!
But, alas, the parasols may have been bad luck!
When it was time to clean up, it suddenly started pouring, with thunder and lightning. Well, that was very dramatic and fun to watch. Fortunately, underneath the tent, nobody got soaked!