The Press-Dispatch

July 11, 2018

The Press-Dispatch

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A-4 Local Wednesday, July 11, 2018 The Press-Dispatch Above and below: Zerrick Jensen and Mandy Gormley were married at the Clog the Pa- toka event on Saturday, July 7 by Micki Lynn. They even had their kayaks decorated for the oc- casion. Savannah Dixon photos By Andy Heuring Clog the Patoka 2018 exploded to 811 participants floating down the Patoka River for a wildly good time Saturday. Blessed with per- fect weather and a near perfect river level for the second year in a row, an idea to invite any and everyone who wanted to go with some buddies who liked to kayak and float the Patoka River explod- ed into a huge event that drew peo- ple from South Dakota and Knox- ville, Tenn. "I thought we might have 400 to 500 people. I had no idea we would have 811 people show up," said Chris Clements, who concoct- ed Clog the Patoka last year and was amazed 360 people participat- ed then. Dennis Young, of Oakland City, said, "I came last year and had such a good time, I came back this year and brought more people with me." This year, he brought seven family members with him. It was a familiar theme while talking with people lined up near- ly a half-mile waiting to drop off their kayaks, rafts, tubes and just about everything else that floats, from a giant pizza to an inflatable unicorn. "Clemmy does a great job orga- nizing this," added Young. Ashley Hale and Kevin Hanebutt, who are members of the Evansville Adventure Club, said they attended last year and en- joyed it. So this year, they brought 17 fellow club members back with them. "I had a blast. I'm telling you it was the most fun I have had in a long, long time," said Holly Suzan- na Hunt, of Knoxville. She rode 10 hours on a Greyhound bus to par- ticipate in the event. "It was well worth the ride." "Two years ago, I got a new lease on life. I lost a limb. A girlfriend called me and told me 'we are go- ing to clog the Patoka.' That sound- ed like something I should be do- ing, so I said 'what is a clog and what is the Patoka? '" A fter her friend, Angie Mills, of Jasper, ex- plained it to her, she eagerly board- ed a Greyhound and made her way to Pike County. This year, the event even had a wedding. Mandy Gormley and Zer- rick Jensen, of Princeton, decided to exchange wedding vows on the deck of the "Old Iron Bridge" that spans the Patoka River at the pub- lic access point used as the starting point of the Clog the Patoka. They then spent the first four hours of their marriage floating down the Patoka River in kayaks side by side, one with a sign reading "Just," the other "Married." Mandy's kayak al- so had her veil proudly displayed with a small raft carrying a cooler tied to their kayaks. Conservation Officer Ken Tinch- er said he was impressed by how well the event was organized and run. "All in all, it went pretty good. I was impressed with the amount of people they had and they were pretty compliant with the law, as far as having their life preservers. I was impressed. I think I wrote a couple of warnings. It wasn't they didn't have anything. A few people just didn't have a life preserver." "My goal was to get out there and let them know we are watch- ing to try and keep their act togeth- er while you are out on the river. I saw very little litter out on the riv- er. I saw maybe a couple of cans float down the river. I was very im- pressed at that for how many people they had out there," said Tincher. "I was glad he was out there," said Clements. "I tried really hard to make sure people knew they had to have a life preserver. But you can only lead a horse to water, you can make him drink," said Cle- ments. He said when people heard Tincher was out there, they start- ed scrambling to make sure they had life jackets. He said he loaned out several and just told people to return them to his campsite in the park. He added he got all of them back. Winslow Street Supervisor Dave Gayhart said for the second year in a row, the group did an excellent job of cleaning up. "You wouldn't find so much as a cigarette butt on the ground," said Gayhart of the park on Sunday after the Satur- day event. Clements said the event has grown so fast, they plan to form a committee to plan for next year. He hopes they can plan ahead and try to solve some of the logistical prob- lems that arise when you try to get nearly 1,000 people to an extreme- ly remote place with only a narrow, often flooded, road leading to it. "I talked to a lot of people as they were getting into the river and we only had two people complain- ing about the wait. But you are al- ways going to have that," said Cle- ments. There was long line that formed along CR 650 E. as trucks and trailers hauling all the boats to the start waited to unload. "I thought it was a opportunity for people to mingle while they wait- ed to get started and I think that is what most people did," said Cle- ments. "I will definitely be back," said Hunt of the event. Clog the Patoka exploded to 811 participants Randi Schroeder, of Celestine, and her dog joined in the fun. Savannah Dixon photo The parking lot next to the starting point of Clog the Patoka 2018 was filled with kayaks, rafts and every conceivable flotation device imaginable and lots of participants waiting their turn to get into the Patoka River. The final tally of participants was 811. Above: Justin Burris, of Loogootee, and Jake Williams, of South Dakota, sit in their kayaks near the start as they wait for Williams' dad Tony to return from Winslow to begin their float. Left: Katie Spicer, of Oakland City, rides her floating unicorn. Lilly Vollman, 2, brings her blan- ket along for her second Clog the Pa- toka trip. This group of Cloggers made their way down the six mile stretch of the Patoka River together on Sat- urday. Savannah Dixon photo Angel Beertzer, of Leopold, and Beer Chancelleer, of Owens- boro, Ky., carry their rafts to start of the six mile float Saturday.

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