By Cecilia Nasmith
Too many years of event delays due to dangerous ice conditions on the Ganaraska River have brought a proactive change to the annual date for Float Your Fanny Down The Ganny.
The early-April timeline organizers adhered to for so many years is now put back a week. That means you float your fanny on April 13 this year - the 38th annual Float Your Fanny, in fact.
The changed date is now standardized, said Barry Adamson – who, with daughter Barrileigh Price, has co-chaired the event for more than a decade.
The catastrophic 1980 Port Hope flood took place on March 21, so the commemorative watercraft race had been planned as close to the anniversary as possible. But the number of years even an early-April date had to be changed for safety concerns cannot be ignored.
And this makes it a slightly warmer outing for the onlookers, Adamson said.
“The guys and girls on the water – it doesn't matter too much because they'll be cold anyway. But for the spectators, it's a lot nicer.”
At any rate, he added, they can't schedule it any later in April without conflicting with that all-important fishing season.
The 10K run down the river is organized into two events – the Crazy Craft and those who take their canoe- and kayak-racing seriously.
Canoes and kayaks start at Canton at 10 a.m., finishing about an hour later. The awards presentation for this event will take place at 1 p.m.
The Crazy Craft event starts at Sylvan Glen at 11 a.m., finishing about 12:30 p.m. These awards will be presented at 2 p.m.
No matter what the conditions competitors face, it's unlikely they will rival what Adamson and his brother-in-law Brian Hunter saw following the Friday event.
Hunter was out and about Saturday morning even before security was in place to safeguard life and property. The scene was surreal, he said, something he will never forget.
The seats in the Capitol Theatre were all soaked. Furniture store owners were working hard to save what they could. Foundations were exposed. And the people walking around looked dazed.
“It's an experience I will never forget,” he said.
Reporter Cam Christie's account of March 24 in the Port Hope Evening Guide mentioned cakes of ice on Ontario Street and the battle the downtown Sears catalogue outlet lost with the churning waters. The window eventually shattered, Christie said, and store contents (including refrigerators) swept into the street to be carried along in the flood's path,
“It was pretty devastating to the town,” Adamson said, saying that the ice chunks were as much a factor as the rushing water.
“It damaged an awful lot, but we had it fixed up,” he continued.
“Since then, that's why we celebrate with the race. We enjoy the river, but it's not our boss.”
Much of the fun and celebration centres in Fannyville, a temporary village set up at the finish area at Cavan Street and the Barrett Street bridge (the one that had to be built to replace the original one destroyed by the flood). It's a great vantage point to watch participants take the last rapids section of the course. Live audio commentary will add to the excitement, and there will be additional entertainment on the water.
It's a short hop from there to enjoy the shopping (and bars) of the downtown, but there's also plenty of fun on the banks – live musical entertainment, fun zones offering activities for kids of all ages, plus a number of food and drink vendors.
Of course, if the weather continues to be unpredictable and April 13 is another of those Bad River Days, there is always room to move to April 20 without affecting the fishing season.
“Let us hope, we do not have to use this alternate date, but we have learned from last year’s storms, and we are keeping two dates in the plan,” Adamson said.