It was a beautiful day to be on the water.
A group of about 70 youngsters signed up to take the annual City of Warren Playground Program Canoe Trip from Kinzua Dam to Allegheny Outfitters at the Glade Bridge.
After getting some safety instruction from Allegheny Outfitters' Dave Wargo, the group headed down the path to the water.
Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry
On the water
In the photo above, Trevor Livingston (foreground canoe) paddles at the front of one of 23 canoes that floated down the Allegheny River as part of the annual City of Warren Playground Program canoe trip as his sister, Josie, rides along in the middle and Mulberry Playground supervisor Katie White paddles in the stern. In the photo at right, City of Warren Recreation Supervisor Cindy Strandburg buckles a life vest on one of about 60 youngsters who participated.
The first stop was for life vests.
Two or three kids climbed into each canoe with a playground supervisor or responsible adult and launched.
Facing a headwind and off currents in the tailwaters, some of the less experienced paddlers struggled to get their canoes headed downstream at first.
At Verbeck Island, just upstream from Shipman's Eddy, they all stopped for lunch - sandwiches, chips, and drinks.
One of the most popular stops during the four previous years of the canoe trip was the jumping rock across from Verbeck Island.
City Recreation Supervisor Cindy Strandburg said the youth would be allowed to jump again this year if the water level permitted.
Ethan Shenk was looking forward especially to that portion of the trip.
"Last year, me, my dad, and my sister, went on this river," Shenk said. "There's this huge rock... my dad let me jump off of that."
Grayce Thomas likes the rock too, but not because she's looking forward to jumping. "My favorite part is seeing people jump off the rock," she said.
Gianna Stearns-Keys wanted to be in the water, but didn't feel the need to jump from a huge rock to get there.
She was excited to be on the trip, her first in a canoe. She was "excited to go in the water" and looking forward to others doing the paddling.
Matt Haight is a veteran of about 10 canoeing ventures. He said he would volunteer to sit in the back because, "I like steering."
He does not like steering to the center of the channel. "I'm going to go through the rapids," Haight said. "I like it when it rocks."
Strandburg has learned what's important to the kids after four years and six total trips.
"We take our grand old time," she said. "We let the kids play."
The six-mile trip takes a total of about five hours, including lunch and other stops.
"When I first started this program, the Allegheny River was underutilized," Strandburg said. "I felt these kids would benefit from a trip such as this."
For the first three years of the event, the trip was just like it was on Tuesday. Last year, for the first time, a second, longer trip was added. It looks like that has become an annual event. The second trip is set for Aug. 1.