The 25th annual Canal Celebration in the city of Little Falls kicked off with the community picnic in Rotary Park on Wednesday night.
Throughout the evening Monkey and The Crowbars provided musical entertainment to locals as they enjoyed the festivities, which included a Brooks chicken barbecue served by the Diamond District of the Revolutionary Trails Boy Scout Council and Little Falls Boy Scout Troop No. 31, while those with a sweet tooth were able to indulge in homemade pies made by the members of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church and funnel cakes, snow cones and lemonade from the Little Falls Civic Club.
The Little Falls Family YMCA conducted Paddles Along the Erie, a canoe and kayak recreational competition which featured a youth kayak race, a four-mile race and a two-mile race. Medals were given to the first, second and third place paddlers in each event.
According to Paddles Along the Erie Director Mike Potter, competitor Paul Olney, of Westernville, was a national caliber paddler. “Today he is competing along with his daughter, Joann Olney, who’s following in the foot steps of her father,” Potter said Wednesday evening.
The Little Falls Rotary Club sponsored a “Duck Dash” to benefit charitable events. Treasurer Colleen Corsi said Rotary does many wonderful things for the community, nationally and internationally.
The Little Falls Polish Club sold T-shirts and advertised their golumpki sale, which will run through Saturday at the city’s Polish Community Center. The club also conducted a raffle for a Kiwi kayak. Club President Dennis Leffingwell said the winner will be chosen at 9 p.m. on Saturday.
Little Falls resident Wanda Sewell said it was her first time attending the community picnic.
“My friend invited me out for a day at the picnic, and I usually attend most of the Canal Celebration events every year,” she said Wednesday evening. “Yesterday I walked in the Curves 5K event. So far the Canal Celebration events have been wonderful.”
Corine Straugh, who invited Sewell to the picnic, said, “The community picnic is a good time every year and Brooks barbecue is great.”
Sewell and Straugh said they would end their night Wednesday watching the fireworks display over the Erie Canal while aboard Erie Canal Cruises’ Lil’ Diamond II.
Also on display at Rotary Park was a 111-year-old tugboat known as the Urger, which joined the state Canal Corporation in 1922 and remained a working tug until 1985. According to a Canal Corporation spokesperson, the boat’s original engine was replaced in 1947 with a World War II surplus engine used in ships about 200 feet in length, which gave the Urger plenty of torque for hauling.
Siblings Logan Smith and Shaylynn Smith, of Mohawk, commented on their tugboat tour experience.
Logan said his favorite part of the tugboat was the bow.
Page 2 of 2 - Shaylynn said she enjoyed learning about the tug’s engine system. “I found it really interesting that the engine was a manually operated system controlled by bells,” she said.