Kelowna’s largest-ever flotilla paraded off into the sunrise this morning to celebrate the official grand opening of the Kelowna Paddle Trail.
Between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. City Park’s Hot Sand Beach welcomed Okanagan’s happy paddlers along with 18 different non-profit organizations offering information and equipment free of charge to any looking to experiment with the available non-motorized watercrafts.
The legion of paddlers departed from City Park’s Hot Sand Beach with numerous non-motorized watercrafts featuring kayaks, paddleboards and other vibrant floatable devices exiting the beach for a 2.5-kilometre roundtrip to Waterfront Park and back.
Kelowna’s Paddle Trail was a result of several groups coming together, including the Kelowna Dragon Boat Club, Active by Nature and the City of Kelowna, among others, with financial support from the Canada 150 Grant to nurture the brain-child of local philanthropist, Brad Dahl.
“I really want to thank Brad for his vision and putting all of this together,” said Mariko Siggers, community and neighbourhoods services manager, City of Kelowna, to a bright-eyed group of excited paddlers.
"We brought our group together probably in January, and had really good interest from the different paddling organizations,” We've been meeting with them and putting things together. [It] kind of came together really well, everyone lent a hand and we were so excited to see the turnout today."
Dahl was granted the opportunity to bring out the clippers and introduce the paddle trail to Kelowna by cutting the ceremonial ribbon - almost stumbling in and bringing some of the councilors present (Ryan Donn, Tracy Gray, Maxine DeHart and Luke Stack) for a swim in Okanagan Lake.
Despite the near-literal slip-up, the event went off without a hitch, "[It] kind of came together really well, everyone lent a hand and we were so excited to see the turnout today," said Siggers after the hours and hours of preparations.
"I think it's about getting people active, outdoors, exploration it's exciting to think about seeing Kelowna from a totally new vantage point - it's crazy how different the city looks from the water side,” commented an enthusiastic Siggers, pleased with the warm temperature and lake conditions.