This summer has definitely not gone the way most expected it to.
With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting or outright canceling several customary summer events, it’s become unusual to see things go on as planned.
One of those events is the Aitkin Chamber of Commerce Ripplesippi Kayak and Canoe River Run, which will take place Aug. 1 starting at the Ripple River landing at the Aitkin City Park.
“We’re very grateful to be able to provide a community event,” said Taylor Erickson, executive director of the Aitkin Chamber of Commerce. “This would be our busiest time of year. I know everyone’s looking forward to participating in a community event.”
The river run route is 2.5 miles, ending at the Mississippi River Public Access at the Aitkin County Campgrounds. On average, the route takes about an hour and a half to complete.
Erickson estimated that last year’s event drew about 60 people, which included many families or couples. She said she’s hoping for about the same turnout.
“If we have more, that’ll be great,” Erickson said. “If we have less, that’ll be great, too.”
A shuttle service will be provided to return participants to the starting point. The event is free and no preregistration is required, just show up day-of to check-in and sign a waiver at the city park.
Registration will be open from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., with the last shuttle ride back at 3 p.m. Due to the pandemic, social distancing will be observed and hand sanitizer will be available.
There will be volunteers stationed along the route to provide assistance if necessary, and there will be a safety sweep at the end to ensure all participants complete the route safely.
With water levels lower than expected, Erickson said the chamber is recommending people use kayaks. Inner tubes will not be passable and portage may be necessary in certain spots.
There will be $10 event t-shirts for sale at the start and end of the Ripplesippi River Run. There will also be free water and treats at the end.
The event is hosted by the Ripplesippi River Trails Committee, a sub-committee of the Aitkin Area Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Development Committee. The event is sponsored by Riverwood Healthcare Center; Aitkin Flowers; Block North; Enbridge; The Joint; The Office Shop; Pine Insurance; Security State Agency; Red Door Resort; and Security State Bank.