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Chris French
Mike Roberts

Downriver Classic: Up the river with a paddle

Having been around since the inception of the Quinnipiac River Watershed Association (QRWA), I can only marvel at the strides this organization has made over the years.

Of course, they did it with a lot of help from their friends, like the Meriden Lions Club and the Cuno Foundation and the City of Meriden, just to name a couple of them.

The QRWA is now headed by President Dan Pelletier, an avid canoe paddler who has won in some of the larger canoe races in the Northeast. One of his pet projects is getting more children and adults into the sport of canoeing just for the fun of it — or, as Dan puts it, he wants them to have an “awareness” of the fun of paddling a canoe or kayak. He has even taken classes from some of the schools out paddling on Hanover Pond where the QRWA Headquarters is now located.

Under the leadership of Pelletier, the 34th Quinnipiac Downriver Classic will be held next Sunday, May 18 on the Quinnipiac River.

This race is one of the longest ongoing canoe events in the Northeast and offers a fun time for all participants. You do not have to be a hardcore paddler to be in this race. In fact, canoes may be rented from the QRWA if you don’t own one. Call (203) 237-2237 for more info or go to www.qrwa.org.

The starting point is the state lot on Route 322 in Southington (the former Meriden/Waterbury Road) and the finish line is the historic Red Bridge located where the Quinnipiac River begins to form Hanover Pond in South Meriden. Participants can register at the starting point at the state lot. The race starts at 11 a.m. sharp.

This year, the event is going to be even more memorable with the Meriden Lions Club holding its world famous duck race on the Quinnipiac River as well as a kid’s fishing derby and a car show before, during and after the canoe race.

The Meriden Lions Club is well known for all of the good things it does for the City of Meriden, and has been instrumental in many of the good things that have happened on the Quinnipiac River and to the QRWA.

When the QRWA took over its new headquarter building (the former Meriden dog pound), the building was in dire need of a lot of rebuilding. The Meriden Lions Club undertook the task of refurbishing a couple of the rooms in the building (one that is now called the Meriden Lions Club Learning Center).

They took on the grueling job of rebuilding much of the building without a bit of hesitation on the part of membership. I know this because I was there and could not have been prouder of the work ethic of my fellow Lions. Also, the new Conference Room was completed through the generosity of the Cuno Foundation.

The Meriden Lions Club is also responsible for restoring historic Red Bridge, which was another momentous task, insuring that this historic structure would be there for future generations to enjoy.

They also have named the grassy meadow above Red Bridge Meriden Lions Park and, if that wasn’t enough, the Meriden Lions Club is responsible for the entrance to the Q-Gorge walking trail that is enjoyed by so many.

This fabulous day on the Quinnipiac River will start with the 1st Annual Jack Fontanella Memorial Kids Fishing Derby. For those of you who may not know Jack Fontanella, he ran the Meriden Lions Club Kids Fishing Derby for many years before his untimely passing last year. Jack will be remembered in future years through the derby. There is no entry fee for the Kid’s Derby and a food voucher is included.

There will also be a car show, The Rolling Thunder Car Show, at the QRWA that morning before the duck race, but it is the world famous Meriden Lions Club Duck Race that will take center stage on May 18. The race will be the last event at this Quinnipiac River spectacular. The Jack Fontanella Kid’s Fishing Derby takes place from 9-11 a.m. And the car show and duck race are 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., with the Duck Race taking off at 2:30 p.m sharp! Tickets for the duck race may be purchased before the event.

And last, but by no means least, those famous Meriden Lions Club barbecue chefs will be on hand to fill the culinary needs of those who might want a hotdog or burger.

These events go on rain or shine, so we hope to see you there. While there, why not check out the beautiful rooms donated through the generosity of the Meriden Lions Club and the Cuno Foundation.

You can also check out the QRWA Library and even join the QRWA. Also be sure to check out the Bee and Butterfly Garden on the QRWA grounds.

Rain or shine it will be a great day for the Quinnipiac River, Hanover Pond and the QRWA.

A WORD FROM YOUR LIFE JACKET

Warm weather means the start of more water craft on the water both salt and fresh. Do you know where your life jackets are?

I ask this not to be funny, but because wearing a life jacket is an important part of enjoying boating and canoeing. I hate to say it, but I have been on some boats and when I asked the owner of the craft where the life jackets were stored, I was either given a vacant look or told, “I don’t know, up front under the deck somewhere.”

Did you know that of all the fatal boating accident victims who drowned, almost 85 percent weren’t wearing a life jacket?

I recently received an interesting email from Boat US regarding life jackets. It is as follows:

“I’m your life jacket, but you don’t know me. I’m here to help you, maybe even save your life — but only if you are willing to take the help. Maybe National Safe Boating Week (May 17 – 23) will help remind everyone that I’m here for you.

“You think you know me but you really don’t. Because the law says you have to keep me aboard your boat, you think you’re safe. But you put me in places so hard to find, under piles of junk or buried in lockers so deep that no one even knows who I am, especially if something happens to you, or if something bad happens very fast like most accidents do. Of all the fatal boating accident victims who drowned, almost 85% of them weren’t wearing a life jacket. I wish I had gotten to know that 85% and I’ll bet their families do too.

“You’ve never taken me out of my new packaging, or let me meet your family or friends. You barely even talk about me. Everyone knows where to find the fishing rods, the cooler full of drinks or the sunscreen. But me? Hardly anyone knows I exist!

“About the only time you talk about me is when you take little boating guests aboard. You put my large adult-size on a small child, thinking I‘ll keep them safe. But sadly, all that little child has to do is put their hands over their head and, POOF, I’ve gone up and over their heads. I don’t mean to, but I can’t hang on their little bodies. Get a right-sized kids life jacket

“You don’t like the way I feel on a hot day? I don’t like the way you sweat either, but that doesn’t stop me from loving you. I’ve slimmed down a lot lately, lost a lot of my size and bulk, and even given you lots of room to move around. If you don’t believe me, I have a lot of good comfortable life jacket friends in all shapes, styles and sizes down at the boating supply store looking for a good home.

“Just remember, when you need me, I will be there for you. But only if I’m worn, or very easy to get to, like under your seat. While I’m a little hurt that you may not choose to wear me all the time, try putting me on a little more frequently. Just try it. I won’t well anyone you’re doing the right thing. I’m your life jacket. Remember that I’m here to save your life, but only if you’ll let me!”

I thought that little “talk” from a life jacket might just prove to be beneficial to some of you boater and canoeists out there.

Here’s an incident I witnessed personally up on Cape Cod. It was an absolutely gorgeous summer day and the boat was bouncing about on some waves off of Head Of The Meadow Beach in North Truro. A pretty young girl on the boat lost her balance and went overboard. She was not wearing a life jacket and, for reasons that are unknown, she never came to the surface. A few days later, when her body washed ashore, her family had the sad task of identifying what remained of her body after a couple of days in the salt water. If she had been wearing a life jacket, the tragedy could have been avoided.

FISHING UPDATE

Mirror Lake has received a second stocking of trout, but the blustery weather has kept many fishermen away from their favorite spots on the lake. I have only seen a couple of fishermen on the Quinnipiac River since opening day. It should also be noted that Mirror Lake is not a Trout Park with a two-trout limit. You may keep five trout when fishing at Hubbard Park.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the ladies out there and to my darlin’ Edna! See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops wherever they may be.



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