Paddleboarding and kayaking are increasingly popular ways to travel the big waters of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail – the 518-mile National Scenic Byway that parallels the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, Niagara River, and Lake Erie in New York and Pennsylvania.
To capitalize on public interest in waterfront destinations, three young entrepreneurs ready to put byway travelers on slender boards and in watercraft propelled by paddle power are hosting grand opening events June 29-30 and July 3.
SUP (Stand Up Paddleboarding) Sackets Harbor Grand Opening Party: June 29-30
SUP Sackets Harbor celebrates its grand opening on June 29, with paddleboard demos all day, a 30-foot slide and slip, and discounts at local restaurants. The cost of the Stand Up Paddleboard Grand Opening Celebration is $15 and includes 4-7 p.m. acoustic soft rock entertainment by Ryan Grant.
On Saturday, those who register for an Intro to Stand Up Paddleboarding class for Sunday June 30, will receive a discounted 60- to 90-minute session with SUP Sackets Harbor co-owners Justin and Jamie McGiver.
Justin McGiver is an American Canoe Association Level II certified paddleboarding instructor, Level II Paddlefit Coach, and a New York State-licensed kayaking and whitewater rafting guide.
Justin’s wife, Jamie, is a World Paddle Association SUP on-board yoga instructor and SUP instructor, and a Level II Paddlefit Coach.
The couple started the business after people seeing them paddleboarding on Lake Ontario expressed interest in lessons and board rentals.
Justin said, “The demand has grown exponentially and we are pleased to be located in Sackets Harbor on the water and on the Great Lakes Seaway Trail.”
Clothing that can get wet and a dry change of clothes are recommended for the weekend event.
“We will match paddlers by size and ability to the most appropriate board to ensure a positive first experience. Our goal is to attract as many people to the sport as possible,” Justin said. “The water is one of this area’s greatest resources and we want to share it.”
The SUP Sackets Harbor paddle shack is located along the Lake Ontario shoreline at historic Madison Barracks and Marina at 125 Pike Road.
Piyak Paddle Fest: July 3 in Clayton
Pia Hogue will celebrate the grand opening of Piyak Paddle in Clayton on the St. Lawrence River with the first Piyak Paddle Fest on July 3.
The event offers free use of the paddle boards, pedal boats and kayaks Pia rents from her 532 Riverside Drive storefront.
A homemade flotation devices, air mattress balance and kayak racing contests are planned. Activities starting at 10 a.m. also include five acoustic entertainment acts and a free BBQ and bring-your-own-food picnic on the deck at Piyak Paddle.
Local charities and artisans have been invited to set up tables free of charge.
Hogue invites those with paddle-power vessels to join her in updating a scene from an early 20th-century photo of people attending Sunday sermons in canoes at Half Moon Bay. The Piyak Paddle Fest water caravan will travel to French Bay for the new photo at 1 p.m.
After the evening July 4th-eve fireworks over the St. Lawrence River, Piyak Paddle will host a FireMagick firebreathers and firedancers demonstration.
Hogue said a lost romance inspired her to develop the new waterfront business to help others.
“After suffering a broken heart, I bought a kayak to find solitude on the river. I enjoyed that so much I started loaning my kayak to people I knew were experiencing hard times. Being on the water put a smile on their faces and a business was born,” Hogue explained.
The 2013 Piyak Paddle Fest has community support from Riverday Spa and Salon, Channelside Restaurant, Attilio’s Pizza, and Green Leaf Mechanicals.
Great Lakes Seaway Trail: Good for Tourism, Good for Business
The American Recreation Coalition, Scholastic Magazine, RoadRunner Magazine and others have recognized the Great Lakes Seaway Trail for its diversity of tourism experiences – from boating, fishing, maritime heritage, and family travel to motorcycling adventures.
Great Lakes Seaway Trail President/CEO Michael P. Bristol said, “The expansive water resources of the 518-mile-long Great Lakes Seaway Trail and all its tributary rivers and streams create a unique destination and endless experiences and business opportunities for those who love the outdoors, the water and an active lifestyle.”
Those seeking paddleboarding opportunities will find rentals at a number of locations along the byway.
To learn more about the recreational resources of the byway, visit www.seawaytrail.com