Volunteers needed as canoe race dates approach

In just over three weeks, the U.S. Canoe and Kayak National Championships will descend on Warren for the eighth time since 2003.

And it’s going to take some local volunteers to help the Warren County Chamber of Business & Industry pull off the event set to run from Aug. 12 through Aug. 15.

John Papalia, director of chamber operations and tourism with the WCCBI, said paddlers are expected to arrive in town starting earlier that week.

“(We’re) excited to have them back,” he said, indicating he’s expecting to see a pickup in hospitality industry traffic that week.

Papalia said he hopes the community is welcoming to those coming in for the event.

Times Observer file photos The U.S. Canoe and Kayak National Championships will return to Warren next month from Aug. 12-15. The Warren County Chamber of Business & Industry is looking for some volunteers to help run the event.

But in addition to being welcoming, some volunteers will be needed.

“Bringing in a hundred paddlers from all over the country, running an event like this is an all-hands-on-deck gig,” the Chamber said in a Facebook post. “While WCCBI staff manages the event operations at the start and finish line, and timing of the race, we need volunteers to spot canoes/kayaks as they race from the Kinzua tailwaters to Betts Park.”

Spotting locations are set up at Shipman’s Eddy — at both the upper and lower buoy — the Veterans Memorial (Hickory Street) Bridge and the downtown train trestle bridge.

“We have four locations we are looking to spot each day, and we try to put two people at each location,” Papalia said. “One person yells numbers and the other checks them off the list.”

“The other area we could use help with,” he added, “would be the finish line each day.

“We try to run multiple stopwatches and a video camera to make sure we get all boats times correct and each paddler accounted for.”

Anyone interested in helping out is asked to call the Chamber at (814) 723-3050 or email papalia at jpapalia@wccbi.org.

Since 1968, Wabash, Jersey Shore, and Marinette, Wisconsin., are the only venues other than Warren to host the event three times. Of those, Jersey Shore’s were in the shortest span — 1987 to 1998.

This year will mark the eighth time that the races will be in Warren County. They were held here every other year between 2003 and 2009 and then again in 2012, 2015 and 2019.


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