For most Red Bank residents, river access isn’t a part of life.
Though the borough’s largest border is the Navesink River, water access has always been restricted to those who can afford it. Even the sparsest access, tiny at the base of Maple Avenue, has been criticized by Red Bank council for providing recreation for only a handful of people who have the resources to be able to take their recreation to the water.
The goal is to change that.
For the this Saturday, will provide residents with river access and education by offering a day of activities, tours of the river by canoe and kayak, and information on how to make use of an available and nearby natural resource. And, of course, it’s all free.
“We believe in public access to the water,” organizer Cindy Burnham said recently. “We want people to learn more about what the Navesink has to offer people, especially in Red Bank.
“We just believe free is good. If you can do it for free, why charge?”
The Saturday, Sept. 8, event is expected to attract from 100 to 200 people depending on the water. Families who attend will have the ability to take guided tours of the river, learn about the history of the Navesink, and participate in hands-on activities, including a touch-tank.
Burnham said all are welcome to attend the inclusive event, which offers something for all ages. It’s not only a fun event, but an important one as well, she said, as river access is still largely restricted in Red Bank. Those who participate in the Paddle Day see first hand the benefits of enjoying the Navesink.
“They love it, they love it, they love it,” Burnham said. “They get hooked. The first time they’re out on the water, it’s a bit of a surprise. Many of them have never been on the water. To be out their, to get that view of Red Bank from the river is something else. It’s spectacular.”
The event is being held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at multiple locations. At Maple Cove, the Jersey Paddler of Brick will have a variety of kayaks and stand-up paddleboards available to demo for free. The EMS of Eatontown will also be on hand with kayaks and related rowing gear. Next to Maple Cover, Navesink River Rowing will host learn-to-row sessions and will provide information about their available programs.
Down the Navesink, and a few blocks from Maple Cove, Monmouth Boat Club will be hosting an open house and offering free food, refreshments and sailboat rides. Red Bank’s clay courts will also be available for free play and, for a second year, Danny Schade’s Mum Runner will be providing visitors with a tour of the Navesink River.
According to a release detailing the event, environmental and maritime groups will also be on hand. The Navesink Maritime Heritage Association will be providing information on the ecology and history of the river, as well as providing youth activites and the American Littoral Society will host seining – a kind of river dredging done with a net to collect specimens – activities for children. S.E.A.S. will also be on hand to offer information.