Kipona canoe races keep history afloat

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In celebration of Labor Day, neighbors from around Central PA take to the Susquehanna River on canoe for the historic Dick Reese Canoe Races.

It’s a test of strength and speed, as racers of all ages and experience levels put their energy into Kipona’s original staple.

Canoe Club of Great Harrisburg President, Chris Holiday, says, “Back in the early days, water activities were really a big activity for the Harrisburg area.”

Holiday says over 80 years ago, the canoe racing tradition began in honor of Dale Zeiders.  He’s the last surviving boathouse owner from the early days of the Kipona.

Holiday says, “Thousands and thousands of people came down to watch the races every year.”

After a long hiatus, the canoe races were brought back in 1992 thanks to Richard Reese, an eight time Kipona high point trophy winner.

Holiday says, “It gives locals a chance to see some of the history and when they sign up for the races, they learn about the history but it also gives paddlers an opportunity to come out on Labor Day and have a good time together.”

For the younger riders, a commitment to the historic event could keep it afloat for Labor Days down the road, and up the river!