Families take to water in Mount Holly

Posted: October 22, 2013

The event was advertised as Burlington County's Fall Foliage Family Float, with plenty of opportunities for people of all ages to board watercraft bobbing on creek and lake in Mount Holly. But for some, staying afloat wasn't so easy.

Ask Greyson Curran. As he and his family completed their first four-mile canoe trip and prepared to try the harder course, Greyson, 12, announced his favorite part of the journey: "Seeing the lady fall overboard!"

Despite a few spills, most participants in the annual event at Historic Smithville Park did indeed stay dry, from grandparents who ended their two-hour trips grinning but groaning from the hard work of rowing, to toddlers who toted balloon animals and sippy cups on board.

The Stewart family split into two canoes and raced each other across Smithville Lake. In one was Asya Stewart and her daughter Samiah, 5. Asya did the paddling, and Samiah had a job of her own. "I have to blow the boat really hard," she said, believing she was propelling the canoe. "I have to blow all the air out of my body."

On Rancocas Creek, Maddox Warner, 6, did his part too. While his mother and her friend rowed, "I helped them by just paddling with my hands," he said. "I was yelling, 'Stroke, stroke!' "

Employees of the canoe rental companies that equipped paddlers with vessels and life vests during the county-sponsored festival praised the Rancocas as a slow-moving creek easy for new paddlers to navigate.

Connie Schipske agreed. "It was my first time I ever did this, and I loved it - the quietness, seeing the Halloween decorations people had up on their decks," she said.

The event is held when leaves along the creek banks turn vibrant. The festival's other activities helped draw a crowd - face-painting, magic, music, hayrides, free pumpkins, fly-fishing lessons, local vendors, and snacks.

For Carolyn Strater, a frequent kayaker on the Rancocas, seeing so many people enjoying the creek was a pleasant surprise.

"I do this river a lot by myself - it's usually empty," she said. "What I like today was that there were a lot of people on the water."




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