We had over 60 volunteers register on Saturday morning (6/22/2013) on the porch of the Crockett Cabin at  U.S.A. Raft Outpost!  On that very porch is where we had our first big river cleanup 12 years ago and wow did it feel good to be back!  Also some of the same band members from that first cleanup were going to be playing again for us later that evening!

It was a busy start with event organizers, Debbie Briscoe and Laura Ward, getting the APE’s Banner up and the APE Face banner up.  All the while, Wesley Bradley was getting the Jackson Action Wagon  boats on display and our Treasurer Jerry Griffin getting busy with fixing a table with our club t-shirts and stickers.  Buffalo Mountain Camp and Retreat, who included Jo Anne Pasqua and Jason Onks, had a very well represented table of their camp with picture boards of the devastation the flood had caused.  Bill Finger came with the Team River Runners to help with parking and soon after that Debbie was busy signing volunteers up for the sections of the river we were focusing on to be cleaned up.

USA Raft supplied duckies to several folks who didn’t have boats and many brought canoes, large kayaks and rafts to help with the effort.  By the time Debbie got on the river to cleanup her section it was mid-day.  We could tell that a lot of the trash we picked up was from the recent flooding from the spring storms.  Lots of things stuck in trees and washed far up on the banks.  We found lots of plastic containers, broken glass, cans, lost shoes, hubcaps, but most of all we wanted to get the tires.  Tires are a lot of work to get out because they are full of sand and mud.  So wallowing out all the sand and mud from the tires takes a while and is dirty work.

Jerry Griffin, Michael & Collin Keesecker were driving to all the spots where the paddlers on the river were stacking up the bags of trash and piles of tires along the road side. That takes a lot of logistics and Jerry is the best at knowing all the roads and how to get there!  Thanks to Jerry, Michael and Collin for being our road runners!

After we all got back the Kona Ice truck came and we all enjoyed FREE cool & refreshing ice treats after all that hard work.  The next welcomed treat was dinner!  The Texas Roadhouse BBQ sure was good and it went fast; along with potato salad, coleslaw and the APE’s signature baked beans.  Pal’s Tea was the perfect beverage to go with it all and it was all donated by WalmartPal’s & Texas Roadhouse thanks to our new Social Director, Laura Ward!

After dinner the Whiskey Sticks started rockin’ on the stage with a bluesy, rock-a-billy sound that was just marvelous!  Our very own Cruise Director, Wesley Bradley, took the role of Master of Ceremony and started the drawings for all our wonderful prizes!  Including the Jackson Kayak Zen 75 we had been selling raffle tickets for to help raise money for Buffalo Mountain Camp and Retreat!  We raised $830.00 for Buffalo Mountain Camp with the JK Zen raffle!  Scott Mancl was the winner of the JK Zen and he was absolutely thrilled!!  He did not already have a boat, but has wanted to learn how to kayak!

We had many other prizes including two $110.00 gift Certificates from Chaco, a PFD from MTI, a SPOT GPS from Mahoney’s, a Swiftwater Rescue Course Scholarship from Landmark Learning, loads of cam straps from NRS and many t-shirts, hats, a cooler, tote bags, & stickers from Mountain Sports, the Nolichucky Hostel, NRS & Mahoney’s.  APE’s even threw in a t-shirt as a prize!

Thanks everyone for all your hard work & dedication to make this clean a huge success! It’s a collaborated effort to keep our river clean and pristine for us & future generations to enjoy. And we’ll just keep on doing it as long as it’s needed!  A special thank you goes out to our own, Debbie Briscoe, for her continued effort in organizing this event each year!!

Click here for Cheryl Killman’s Event Photos