Originally created 04/28/97

Herons, ducklings and ducks, oh my



Ed and Fredrica Clary beamed as they climbed out of their canoe on the Augusta Canal.

For years they told themselves they should participate in the Augusta Canal Canoe Cruise and Barbecue, and finally on Sunday afternoon they did.

"It was wonderful. The weather was perfect because it didn't get too hot," said Mrs. Clary. "We saw blue herons and ducks and ducklings."

The 10th annual event attracted 133 people this year, far less than the 350 who took part last year, said Jeanie Allen. She and other organizers for the Peach State Public Radio fund-raiser blamed the damp weather Sunday for the lower turnout.

"(But) no sissies showed up today," said Ms. Allen, the Augusta area development director for Peach State Public Radio and a member of the Augusta Canal Authority.

When WACG-FM joined the Peach State Public Radio, Ms. Allen suggested the idea of the canal trip to raise funds. "We wanted to have an event to bring attention to some of the other values that listeners of public radio are interested in. (The Augusta canal and public radio) It was just a nice fit."

The canoe cruise became an annual fund-raising event for Peach State Public Radiosba and the canal, Ms. Allen said.

Ten years ago, parts of the Augusta Canal were dangerous and unsavory, "And now it's a national heritage area," she said.

Julian Osboncq, like the Clarys, had been meaning to take part in the Canoe Cruise for years. He also made it Sunday.

"It gives you a feeling of history," Mr. Osbon said of the canoe trip down the canal built more than 150 years ago. Although he's biked and ran along sections of the canal, the canoe trip gave him a new perspective, Mr. Osbon said.

Rob Chmura cq is a veteran of the Canal Cruise. He made his fifth trip Sunday. "It's a great time, that's the main thing. Now it's almost a tradition. I do this to support the radio station and have a great time."

Although Mr. Chmura and others aren't regular canoers, the Canoe Cruise is easy and convenient, he said.

Mike Dineen, making his second trip, brought Robert Reynolds along Sunday.

"It was very relaxing," Mr. Reynolds said. "It's not so much a learning experience as a pleasant excursion on a Sunday afternoon."

At the end of the seven-mile trip, canoers feasted on barbecue at the Meadow Gardens.

The Canoe Cruise and Barbecue was sponsored by International Paper and the Walton Rehabilitation Hospital.