Students from Plymouth State University were excited to take part in the second annual Baker River Regatta in support of Mountain Village Charter School last Saturday. (Photo by Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
May 09, 2019PLYMOUTH – Mountain Village Charter School's second Baker River Regatta was not only a great opportunity to explore the recreational and environmental values of the Baker River; it was also a chance to clean up its banks so all can enjoy the natural beauty of the watershed.
"We picked up bottles and cans and plastic and even some tires that were out there," one enthusiastic group of youngsters reported after the event.
Race organizer Jamie Hannon is also chair of the school's Board of Trustees and said the regatta's pre-race sign up was not as high this year but he attributed that to the recent rainy weather. As race time neared however, supporters of the school and its environmental mission did not let him down as they arrived to take part in the event.
This year, the regatta saw a couple of changes. The start line was moved for most participants up stream from the Millennium Covered Bridge to the Plymouth Sands Campground where there was easier river access for the four-and-a-half mile trek to Plymouth's Amphitheater. The second change was that the more ambitious paddlers could opt this time for a longer course, resulting in a nine-mile water trek that began at Riverbrook RV Park in Rumney.
While there were awards in several divisions awaiting those who completed the course in the fastest time or collected the most trash along the way, the fun factor was the awards for those who had the best costumes or decorated boats.
Creativity in that category was high this year. Some participants adopted a pirate theme, such as MVCS faculty members Olivia Casey and Madeline Zukowski. With the running of the Kentucky Derby that day, one entrant dressed in a floral dress and floppy hat derby attire with a Unicorn adorning her canoe. Still another took on a more country version of the race; a small stall structure and horse stuffed animal, complete with a bale of hay, decked out their entry. There was even a boat full of rabbits that paddled the course.
Paddling the course in their Floating Dragon canoe, Simone and her friend Liam were excited for the start of this year's regatta.
"I'm not doing this because we want to win, I'm doing this because I want to have fun," Liam said, adding, "And clean up the river."
Hannon is also a professor at Plymouth State University who encouraged his students to join in the regatta once again this year and they did not disappoint him. Several showed up with a flamingo adorned canoe, Hawaiian attire, jungle hats, sunscreen lathered noses and a sign that proclaimed "The Party Is Here."
Many of the MVCS students were especially excited to see one particular PSU student however. Last year paddle boarder Nick Boccia delighted them by taking part in their fundraiser dressed as "The Little Mermaid." This year he followed that up by arriving as Pocahontas.
"I guess I have a Disney Princess theme going for this event," he laughed.
Preparing to head out on the course he even treated them to a few lines of the song "Just Around the Riverbend" from the movie, "Pocahontas."
As the race was ready to begin, Hannon thanked all who signed on for the paddle, saying he was glad to see it was not just members of the school community who were involved. He expressed his appreciation to a number of local sponsors as well as both campgrounds that allowed river access for the regatta.
The race was developed last year to not only raise funds for the school but to help bring renewed awareness to the Baker River Watershed, its resources and importance to its bordering communities. Hannon said he was grateful that others recognized its worth, too, as they support Mountain Village Charter School and its environmental focus.
"It's great to see that it's not just our school paddling and enjoying the Baker River here today," he said. "Thank you all for being part of this!"