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Fools float the river for 20th straight New Year | Community Spirit

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Fools float the river for 20th straight New Year
Fools float the river for 20th straight New Year

 

How did you spend your New Year's Day? Napping away a hangover on the couch, pretending to watch football?

That kind of afternoon sounds foolish to the group of rafters who floated the Spokane River on Tuesday. The Northwest Whitewater Association celebrated the 20th Annual Only Fools Float the River on the First the only way they knew how – by eschewing a day at home and getting onto the water despite the air being only 22 degrees when they launched.

“If you're a boater, you take every chance to get on the water,” Bruce Bernhardt said.

More than 30 people attended the event with more than 20 boats on the water.

“This is more exciting” than watching football, said Pat Keegan before launching.

Rafters came from Cheney to Coeur d'Alene for the event. A group from North Idaho College said they were up since 8:30 a.m. in preparation for the event. One boater said it was a no-brainer between coming to Spokane for this event or staying in CdA for the city's annual Polar Bear Plunge.

“This is really a win-win,” Ryan Schneider said in reference to the CdA event. “This is way more fun and you don't have to actually get in the water.”

The rafters launched just north of the city's water treatment plant in Riverside State Park shortly before noon and got off the water nearly two hours later at Plese Flats.

“(The float) was fabulous,” Pamela Cunz said after getting off the water. “What else would I be doing right now?”

There was a good turnout of spectators as family members and friends snapped pictures and cheered on rafters as they passed along on the frigid water.

“I love rafting, but I'm definitely not a Fool,” Melanie Delaney, wife of NWA president Paul Delaney, said.

Despite the cold air and water temperatures hovering around 35 degrees, the more experienced boaters remained unfazed.

“You're dressed the same. The weather's cold, but you're dressing for the water,” NWA member John Flaherty said.

After getting off the water, changing clothes and warming up by any means necessary, participants were invited to join NWA at the Fieldhouse across from Joe Albi Stadium to warm up with some “pizza and beverages.”

“We're going to go watch some football and talk about our great start to the New Year,” NWA president Paul Delaney said.

Want to see more pictures? See the full photo gallery here.

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