22 volunteers gathered at Potters Bridge Park in Noblesville. After checking in and receiving a commemorative t-shirt, the group gathered for introductions and instructions. Borrowing from the practice used by many golf outings, rather than hole sponsors we signed up 10 canoe sponsors. As the canoe pairings were announced, each team was given a sign with the name of their canoe. The canoes were either named after the sponsoring company or with a name designated by the sponsor. We then piled into the cars of our land crew for the short drive to the Riverwood Canoe Launch north of town.
We were met at the launch by Kevin Hardie of the Friends of the White River and Brant Cowser, our canoe outfitter. Each team attached their sponsor’s sign to their ship, grabbed paddles, PFD’s, trash bags and gloves and began the short trek down to the river. After some last minute instructions from Kevin the teams shoved off from the shore and began scouting for trash and debris. Before all of the canoes were launched, our able land crew had collected half a bag of trash from the banks around the put in. The nine canoes launched without incident, unless of course you count the one team that tipped as they were climbing in obviously trying to cool off after carrying the canoe down to the river.
By the time Carmen and launched as the sweep canoe (our job was to hang back and ensure everyone progressed down river) one team had already retrieved a broken chair from the waters. As the canoes made their way downstream, we discovered an assortment of trash and debris including tires, a hose, a trellis, a sleeping bag and mountains of trash. We were unable to retrieve some items such as a hot water heater, a 55 gallon drum, and part of a dock. We noted their location so they can be removed during the fall clean up.
Shortly after launching, I realized I had forgotten to tell the teams where the take out was at the end of our 2 ¼ miles. All I could do at that point was hope they realized that when they got to the covered bridge they should stop! Lesson learned for our NEXT clean up!
After about two hours, the teams began arriving at Potter’s Bridge and the pile of trash began to grow. There had been some confusion over the location of the dumpster and so rather than being located in the parking lot at the top of the bank above the take-out; it was about ½ mile down the road in the south parking lot. Each team hauled their treasures up the hill to the staging area with assistance from the land crew and the other teams. The bank at Potter’s Bridge is fairly steep and some of the finds took a great deal of effort to get them to the top. It’s amazing how heavy a water-logged sleeping bag can be!
By noon, all the teams but one were in and accounted for, the last team was nowhere in sight. After many tense minutes, they finally came into view. Now, if TV theme music could have been heard, the song from Sanford and Sons would have definitely been playing. The team was paddling with all their might, but barely moving forward. Their canoe had the appearance of a garbage scow. Every inch was crammed with trash, a four foot diameter table top was lying across the gunwales between the bow and the stern and more trash was piled on top of it. Behind the canoe were a mini-fridge, a gas tank, and a set of stairs all floating along tied one to the other. It took a half a dozen of us to carry their load up the bank to the staging area; in fact, it took five just to haul the canoe up the path because of the huge piece of water-laden foam rubber in the bottom!
All told, the teams filled ¾ of a 15 yard dumpster with over 1,000 pounds of trash! After a box lunch, the tired volunteers took one last look at the pile of trash and headed for home.
I would like to thank our teams and our sponsors for making A Network of Support for the White River a huge success!
In the ship, The Ebony, sponsored by Mary Ellen & Gene Ton, were their grandsons JT Ton and Brad Ton.
The ship, Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf Landscape Architects was ably captained by Rick Brown and Cody Brown.
Elements Engineering’s vessel was guided by George Caraghiaur and Joanne Bule.
Alan Francoeur and Lori Gooding piloted the boat co-sponsored by Medical Records to Go and christened the Zoe by Jane Burch.
crittur.com’s can-do canoe was paddled by Scott Martin and George Seat.
Nancy Cuppy and Drew Cuppy guided the canoe sponsored by Integrated Development Services.
EnthEnergy’s vessel was ably manned by Jamal Handy and Tim Holtz.
The Perfect Life was sponsored by Ron West and was powered by Jack Manard and Karen Schneider.
Carmen and I canoed the Gabby Belle, sponsored by Judy and Dave Hollander.
Our fantastic land crew consisted of Kathleen and Tom Gruhl, Andrea Osman and Angie Worzala.
Last, but not least, I would like to thank Cypress Communications for helping to sponsor this event.