Last updated: May 27. 2014 12:26PM - 711 Views
Bill Currey For the Coal Valley News

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It’s time to paddle!

The Coal River Group is preparing for the tenth annual TOUR DE COAL community float event.

Last year, over 400 boats and 600 people joined together to enjoy a lazy twelve mile trip down the Coal rivers.

The event is a major fund raiser for the non-profit river restoration group.

Kris Radford, President of the Coal River Group says, “We depend on the proceeds for this event to help fund our many ongoing programs that teach youth about clean water, promote tourism for the entire 88-mile river system and support dozens of river trash removal efforts by our 600 volunteers.”

The donation by participants is $20 per person for those that pre-register. Registration the date of the event is $25 per person and kids under the age of 11 free. Each person who pays the registration fee gets a wonderful collectable Tour De Coal t-shirt.

The tenth year is an anniversary that commemorates the humble beginnings in 2004 of the Group’s efforts to clean up the three Coal Rivers.

“Back in the beginning”, Radford reminisces, “We only had about 40 people join us for the Tour De Coal. We didn’t have a lot of sponsors, just Moses Ford and several individuals. The event was experimental at that time. Heck we didn’t know if anyone would even come out. But our founders were good promoters and through a lot of effort and support from the news media we were able to convince a few people to join us for the float.”

The 2014 Tour De Coal will start on Friday evening, June 20, 2014, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m., at the River Center in Meadowood Park with a pre-registration party. The gathering will bring together many of the Group’s veteran volunteers - many who have helped every year since 2004. Music and memories will be shared by all and the pre-registering people will avoid the big crowds that come at the last minute the day of the tour.

The 2014 Tour De Coal will be held on Saturday June 21st and the event begins at 9 a.m. when the cannon boom signals the “man your boats and hit the water” call.

Participants should bring their boats to Meadowood Park in Tornado beginning at 7 a.m. and then drive to Gateway Shopping Center in St. Albans to catch the shuttle busses back to the park.

Only Kayaks and Canoes or Paddle boards are allowed. No Jon boats or inflatable rafts will be accepted for the float. Life vests and paddles are required, officials said.

Again, it is expected that many river front residents will provide encouragement and support for boaters as they float down the 12-mile course.

All boats are required to take out by 5 pm.

No transportation will be available back to the park at the finish line.

• The Tour de Coal event is a fund raising event for the Coal River Groups continuing river restoration, preservation and educational programs.

• The sponsors of the event include: Moses Ford of St. Albans, WV. Mardi Gras Casino, City National Bank, Anheuser- Busch, and many others.

• The event includes: Pre-Registration and Volunteer Party June 20, 2014 from 5:00 to 8:00 Pm CRG River Center in Meadowood Park at Tornado, WV.

• The Tour de Coal will be held on June 21, 2014. The event begins at 9:00 am and ends at 5:00pm

• Shuttle buses will bring all participants from Gateway Shopping Center in St. Albans to Meadowood Park from 7:30 am until 10:00 am. No shuttle buses will be available at the close of the event from Gateway Shopping Center back to the Meadowood Park. Plan Ahead.

• Donations for the event are set at $20 for advance registrations and $25 late registration day of the float. All paid registrations receive free T-shirts. Children under age 11 are free but T-shirts will cost $15.

• Over 65 volunteers will be on hand to help participants and provide safety support along the course.

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