Since its founding in 1887, New Paltz has been a proud host for a wealth of community traditions.
On Sunday, May 7 the Village hosted the 62nd anniversary of the New Paltz Regatta. The event dates back to May 5, 1955 when the Delta Kappa Fraternity of SUNY New Paltz first held their own on the Wallkill River.
The regatta was organized by a committee comprised of various members of the community: Theresa Fall, John Giralico, Jim Tinger, Kathy Cartegena, KT Tobin, Dan Pomarico-Maxson, Craig Chapman, Jack Zand and Robert Lucchesi.
Among the various sponsors, attendees recognized a plethora of local establishments and organizations that contributed to the financial backing for the day: The Gilded Otter, Jar’d, The Woodcrest Community, Lalo Drywall, E-River Neurology, Garvan’s Gastropub, Masseo Landscaping, New Paltz Family Medicine, Smitty’s Body Shop, P&Gs, The Parish, Smitty’s Body Shop, New Paltz Community Acupuncture, New Paltz Kayaking Tours, DJ Remodeling, The Town & Village of New Paltz, SUNY New Paltz and Rodan Labs.
While varying slightly from the rules of its precedent, the event began with a parade kicking off at Village Hall at 1 p.m. and proceeded to the Sojourner Truth boat landing where teams who had crafted their own watercraft began to set up for the race.
Despite poor weather conditions, village residents were abundant in numbers and waited eagerly on the Gilded Otter Brewing Company lawn where bands Ratboy Jr. and Yard Sale performed.
Each team was responsible for providing and creating a non motorized raft-style boat. Teams were required to have a different theme than the year prior if they had participated in the event before.
Riverkeeper, an independent organization funded and driven by people concerned for the water quality all over the Hudson Valley, made a point to voice their support of the event.
“By celebrating the community’s connection to the water and showcasing what a recreational resource the Wallkill can be, the New Paltz Regatta is a powerful tool for improving the river,” they wrote to New Paltz Regatta Committee member and Village Trustee-elect KT Tobin.
The Wallkill River, after being monitored by Riverkeeper last year for its algae bloom, has been deemed unsafe for swimming and has caught the widespread concern of the community.
Director of the Elting Memorial Library and New Paltz Regatta Committee member John Giralico saw the tradition as crucial to bringing attention to the state the river is currently in.
“It’s a tradition that draws focus to this beautiful land feature we have right in our own backyard, and it’s no secret-it needs our help and attention to get it back to what it should be,” Giralico said.
Before the boats took their place at the starting line, Giralico made a point to remind competitors what they were really there for.
“It is a competition, and there will be prizes announced, but this is really all just in good fun, bringing the community together,” he said.
After all the rafts were placed at the line, and New Paltz Rescue Squad was in position to monitor the race safely, teams took off.
Sono Tek, engineered with a man-powered water wheel, swept the competition, leaving the other teams to be sorted into different categories.
Ice Cream Float was awarded “Most Creative,” Forrest Gump deemed “Most Theatrical,” Snugs, the “Funniest,” the “Green Award” went to Save The Bees, “Best Design” “Leaf”- River Alliance, “Most Likely to Sink” went to NP Karate, “Best in Show” Noah’s Ark, “All You Need is Love,” Octopus’ Garden and lastly the “Spirit of the Regatta” awarded to Circleville M.S.