White River Alliance celebrates first weekend of free kayaking

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — In an effort to keep Hoosiers active during the COVID-19 pandemic, the White River Alliance teamed up with Noblesville-based White River Canoe Company to offer six Free Paddle Days to residents throughout the summer.

A combination of sun in the forecast plus the initiative’s first weekend offering meant Sunday’s free paddle day was sold out before it even began.

“We sold out through the website pretty quickly,” said Mary Hayes, festival program director with the White River Alliance.

But Hayes also says they are working with the White River Canoe Company to provide even more boats during future paddle days.

“The alliance is here to provide education on water conservation efforts, but we also are here to help get people on the water. If they fall in love with being on the White River, the hope is those people will help take care of it,” added Hayes.

Free Paddle Day is meant to replace the many boating events and festivals canceled this year because of the pandemic, including the annual White River Dragon Boat Race and Hamilton County White River Clean-up.

Instead, on August 7 and 21 boaters are asked to clean up any trash they encounter while enjoying Free Paddle Day. Boats with the most trash haul will be awarded a Visa gift card.

“We have the same goal. We’re the commercial side and the alliance is on the science side. So we were happy to partner with them on this,” said Brian Cooley, owner of the White River Canoe Company.

Boaters on Sunday morning said they might not have taken the day to visit the White River had it not been for the free rides, which are saved for the first 50 boaters between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. for the remaining four days: August 7, 16, 21 and 30.

For more information on the Free Paddle Days, click here.