The greatest spectacle in this day-long affair is the parade of homemade crafts that come barreling down Main Street with different themes, different levels of buoyancy and garage-level engineering that always makes it questionable whether they will swim or sink.
“The judges make up new, fun categories every year and present the winners with prizes, usually great gift certificates from local businesses and restaurants or retail stores for the ‘most creative,’ the ‘most likely to sink,’ the ‘most fun’ and of course the ‘fastest,’” said Theresa Fall of Water Street Market, who has been working hard with Deb Rauch of In Good Taste and Kathy Combs of 36 Main, to organize the event.
In keeping with the festive tradition, the parade of boats, floats and kayaks will begin on Sunday, May 1, 1 p.m., at Village Hall on Plattekill Avenue, making a left onto Main Street and then a sharp left onto Water Street where they will make their way toward the boat launch, approximately one-half mile from the Carmine Liberta Bridge where onlookers can cheer on the competitors.
Those interested in competing in the Regatta boat race or the more traditional kayak race can sign up online at www.newpaltz.ny.net/regatta or they can sign up that day for a cost of $20. Make sure to bring a driver’s license for insurance purposes, not as proof that you can steer a boat.
While the boat race is at the center of the action, according to Fall, there are many “free community activities and giveaways throughout the day.”
Outside of La Stazione Restaurant there will be a children’s bouncy house run by members of the New Paltz Youth Center. There will also be free ice-cream being handed out at the same location.
Water Street Market will be providing free popcorn throughout the day.
At the Gilded Otter, there will be bands playing to lend a concert-like flare to the Regatta, including SnowBear at 1 p.m. and The Trapps at 2:30 p.m.
“The Gilded Otter has been so gracious to us,” said Fall, noting that they not only help to sponsor the event, allow their lawn and parking lot to be used and provide live music, but they also “let the Woodcrest Community come and sell hotdogs and hamburgers, because all of the money they raise from those sales go directly to Family of New Paltz.”
Another fun and old-fashioned fundraiser for Family of New Paltz is the Rubber Ducky Race. People can “sponsor” a duck or several ducks for a small cost. They will be given ticket numbers and each duck has a number on their bottom half. The ducks are tossed into the river from the bridge and the fastest one to make it across the finish line will take home a prize.
“It’s a fun race, one that the kids really get into, and we will be selling tickets for the ducks at Water Street Market beginning next week,” Fall said.
She added that while there are “so many sponsors -- all of whom are on our website and our T-shirts and helps us pay for the advertising and the T-shirts for our volunteer staff” -- she singled out In Good Taste, P&G’s, the New Paltz Youth Center and the Gilded Otter as being extremely helpful.
“Jim Tinger and the Youth Center have been so incredibly helpful in organizing this event and will be there to help volunteer as well,” she said.
A judge will announce the winners in every category and those winners will receive prizes.
“One of the original reasons for the Regatta was to bring the SUNY New Paltz students and the community together and that continues to happen,” Fall said. “But this is a day that is so much fun for the community, as it brings everyone out together to celebrate New Paltz and just have a fun time.”
If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Fall at TerryFall@gmail.com.