The village of Riverside plans to introduce a new river-centric event later this month, a day-long kayak rental that could serve as a trial run for other similar events in the future.
Called the Friends of Riverside Kayak Paddle, the event is now scheduled for Sunday, June 27 from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Organizers had intended for the event to take place two weeks earlier, but they determined the water level on the Des Plaines River was too shallow.
While the Riverside Department of Parks and Recreation had explored such events, officials had concluded they just didn’t have the capacity to pull one off.
“The challenge for the department was that we’d have to buy the kayaks, store them and get someone certified, so it just was not feasible to do it in-house,” said Recreation Director Ron Malchiodi.
Village Trustee Alex Gallegos, an avid kayaker who has organized the annual Scuff Gross Regatta in memory of Riverside Township’s late longtime assessor, put Malchiodi in contact with a company called Paddle On Outfitters Inc., a Genoa-based company that offers kayak tours and rental events.
“I applaud the effort,” said Malchiodi of Gallegos reaching out to Paddle On Outfitters to give the village a way to host such an event. “There’s no shortage of people saying, ‘You should do this!’ He went to the vendor and made it happen.”
Those who’d like to participate in the event must buy tickets through Paddle On Outfitters ($20 for a single kayak, $35 for a tandem) and register for one of the launch times, which are spaced two hours apart. If you own a canoe, you can buy a ticket to have it shuttled to the start point.
No one under the age of 5 is allowed and anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Participants will be given a brief safety introduction before each trip.
Participants are asked to meet at the green parking lot at 65 E. Burlington St. They’ll be shuttled to the Scout Cabin, where kayaks will enter the river and then paddle downstream to the northern end of Swan Pond Park, where the river bends east towards the Riverside Public Library.
“The idea for them to encourage their customers to park at the green parking lot was so that our visitors who were coming into town can walk around the downtown and this will give some of our businesses foot traffic,” Gallegos said.
With the event now taking place on June 27, part of it will run concurrently with the Scuff Gross Regatta, and people can register for a time slot that will allow them to join the regatta when those kayakers pass through.
Gallegos said Riverside TV was planning to film this year’s regatta and that a fleet of 60 to 70 kayakers all converging at the Swinging Bridge – those joining the regatta would continue on to that event’s end point at the Stony Ford Canoe Landing in Lyons – was something the village could use in the future to market the village.
Malchiodi said while the June 27 kayak paddle was a one-off event, for now, he said he’s open to doing more of them in the future.
“We just figured let’s do it as a special event and see where it goes,” Malchiodi said. “I think the community would like it and that it would be received well. We’ll see how it works logistically and then see what the [village] board would like to do with it.”
Tickets for the June 27 event will be available through Paddle On Outfitters’ Facebook page (@paddleon2018) and website (paddleonoutfitters.com).