Jason Halttunen stands beside his daughter Laila Halttunen, 6, during the paddle trail’s opening. - Carli Berry/Capital News

Dragon boaters celebrate launch of Kelowna’s paddle trail

Boaters of all sorts hit the way Saturday for the trail’s launch

“Everyone together in three, two, one.”

The Kelowna Dragon Boat Paddling Society members dip their paddles into the cool waters of Okanagan Lake.

They take short breaks after a number of strokes to practice timing, one of the members tells me.

I’m sitting at the bow, iPhone in hand, making sure I don’t drop it in the water.

The paddling society was gracious enough to give me a taste of what it’s like to be in a dragon boat. The boat is less tippy than I expected. Around 40 paddlers head towards City Park, where the announcement will be made for Kelowna’s new paddle trail.

“I love being on the water, it’s my happy place all the time. It’s a perfect day, it’s not too hot,” paddler Amanda Hunt said.

The 27-kilometres of trail stretches from Bertram Creek Park to McKinley Beach.

Paddlers of all shapes and sizes join the two dragon boats for the water parade as we drift closer to the shore.

After a few short speeches, the ribbon is cut and boats float away, paddling from City Park to Waterfront Park and back in celebration.

I remain on the beach, preferring dry land with a camera in hand.

The event was hosted by the City of Kelowna in partnership with Kelowna Dragon Boat Club, Central Okanagan Regional District, Kelowna Canoe & Kayak Club, CRIS Adaptive Adventures, Okanagan Dragon Boat Racing Club, Bust ‘N Loose – Kelowna Breast Cancer Paddling Team, Kelowna Rowing Club and the Kelowna Paddle Centre.

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The man behind the idea for the paddle trail Brad Dahl (centre), snips the ribbon to open the trail while surrounded by Kelowna city councillors.

Julia Grassmick, 4, is ready to take a test ride of Kelowna’s paddle trail. The trail’s launch was held in City Park Saturday.

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