The inaugural Ditch Day Fun Float, set for Sept. 14, will put in at the Verde River access at the Rezzonico Family Park by Black Bridge on Montezuma Castle Highway.
"Everyone must believe in something. I believe I'll go canoeing." Henry David Thoreau
CAMP VERDE - It is not a river race. It is more of a lively parade, on water. A flotilla of floats.
This year, Camp Verde is introducing Ditch Day & Fun Float on the Verde River from Black Bridge to Sunnyside Park. The Fun Float, scheduled for Sept. 14 at 10 a.m., is being tagged "an entertaining and wacky river recreation event."
The time to sign up is now.
Steve Ayers, director of Economic Development for the Town of Camp Verde, says it is an opportunity for residents to learn about how the ditches operate. He says those ditches - OK Ditch, Verde Ditch and Eureka Ditch - will turn their water back into the river for the day.
"It's a way to educate people about the Verde River while having a good time," Ayers says.
That means get out the party outfits.
The watercraft used in the flotilla will be judged at the midway point for creativity, ingenuity, depiction of category and the spirit of the team. The aforementioned categories include best-costumed crew, greenest (use of recycled materials), funniest and judge's choice.
Whether canoe, kayak, inner tube or homemade raft, all watercraft must pass safety inspection for water worthiness. Considering there is a 200-foot hike around the Diamond S Dam before the last leg of the 2-mile trip, crews should be sure they can carry their craft, too. And make sure any decorations can hold together.
As with any new event, especially with liability issues, this has been a challenge to organize. Ayers says the event has received some sponsorship from The Nature Conservancy and Salt River Project.
Mike Marshall, Camp Verde's Parks & Recreation director, says his department will handle registration for the event "because if just makes sense that we're the ones set up to do that kind of thing with the staffing we have."
The cooperation of the ditches, he says, allows them to have a little more water in the river while showing participants to see how the ditches use the river.
"We're trying to give the opportunity for people who might not have a lot of contact with the river to have a relaxed, low-risk experience," Marshall says.
Participants must wear a Type III USCG-approved life jacket. There will be some personal flotation devices available through organizers, but that is first-come, first-served.
Anyone under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult. Anyone under 18 must also attend a safety course presented by the Verde River Valley Nature Organization at the launch site the morning of the Fun Float.
No one will be allowed to park at the launch site at Rezzonico Family Park, at the library nearby or at the take-out point near Sunnyside. Parking will be a Rio Verde Plaza (corner of Main and Fain) with shuttles provided.
An awards ceremony is scheduled for 2 p.m. For more information and to sign up, contact Marshall at (928) 554-0828 or drop in at the Parks & Rec office, 395 S. Main St.
"What sets a canoeing expedition apart is that it purifies you more rapidly and inescapably than any other travel. Travel a thousand miles by train and you are a brute; pedal five hundred on a bicycle and you remain basically a bourgeois; paddle a hundred in a canoe and you are already a child of nature." Pierre Trudeau