National Trail Day-June 7, 2015
Trails Day celebrated along the Quinnipiac River in Meriden
MERIDEN — Three entities joined efforts to turn the Meriden Linear Trail into a beehive of activity Sunday — a combination of the annual Meriden Lions Club Duck Race, free canoe rides hosted by the Quinnipiac River Watershed Association and a celebration of National Trails Day weekend by the Meriden Linear Trail Advisory Committee.
The day started in the morning with the Jack Fontanella Memorial Kids’ Fishing Derby followed by a Pet Walk, a project run by the Lions’ young leaders club, the recently-established Leos Club of Maloney High School. The linear trail was busy throughout the day as bikers, walkers and joggers took to the trail while they waited for the afternoon Duck Race. Dr. Jeffrey Ward of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven led a group interested followers, that included Judi Riccio and her group of Cheshire Cub Scouts, on a guided tour of trees along the Quinnipiac Gorge trail, where sycamore, sassafras, black beech and chestnut trees populate the riverside.
The duck race serves as one of the primary fundraisers for the Lions Club. More than 2,300 ducks were dumped by payloader into the Quinnipiac River from the meadow along River Road in South Meriden and the race was on. Well, sort of, because the floating yellow ducks were going nowhere fast without much of a river current to carry them towards Red Bridge. A large crowd gathered across Red Bridge and along the southern bank of the river to sit and watch patiently as the ducks floated slowly to the finish line 20 minutes later. Josh Maslar was awarded the first-place cash prize of $1,000 for the first duck to reach its downstream destination. Prizes were awarded to each of the first 10 ducks to reach the finish line. Dan Brooks, Adam Hamp, Kate Logodicio, Chip Steward, Dean Benoit, Doug Dexter, John LaRosa, Sharon Dunn and Karen Benz were also prize winners in the race, which raised about $6,000, according to Lions Club secretary Dave Swedock. At the gateway to the linear trail earlier in the day, Meriden City Councilor Cathy Battista, who also serves as the council’s linear trail liaison, spoke about the future of the Meriden trail system. Phase 3 is expected to start soon. “This all started with a vision and we need to keep our vision going,” Battista told a group gathered alongside Red Bridge at the start of the Quinnipiac Gorge Trail. Fellow City Councilor at-large Kevin Scarpati talked about the trail system growing into “a means of transportation,” with the connection of the Hanover Pond/Dossin Beach section of the trail to Phase 3, which will extend the trail towards Bronson Avenue Park and Cook Avenue and eventually downtown. Joe Zajac of the Linear Trail Advisory Committee spoke about the history of the Meriden-Cheshire-Waterbury rail line that ran through Quinnipiac Gorge in the early 1800s and the importance that the former railway played in the establishment of the linear trail. Dan Pelletier, of the Quinnipiac River Watershed Association, was busy coordinating canoe rides for individuals and groups, under the direction of QWRA canoeists volunteering and guiding the association’s fleet of canoes. Swedock said the concept of holding the Lions´ Duck Race in conjunction with National Trails Day and along with canoe rides and the club´s own fishing derby and pet walk, “just kind of fell together” after discussions among the three organizations.
(from the Meriden Record-Journal)
(Photos by Bob Tencza)