Village to Village Spring Challenge
- May 4, 2013
- Village of Spencerport to Village of Brockport
- Spencerport, NY (USA)
- Hosted By Rochester Community inclusive Rowing
- USRowing Registered
Erie Canal's past, present celebrated
BROCKPORT — The Erie Canal was filled with sculls Saturday, gliding like great oared dragonflies over the water’s shimmering surface.
The seven-mile regatta from Spencerport to Brockport was part of the latter’s five-day Low Bridge, High Water celebration, which featured an official ribbon cutting after the race, marking the 189th consecutive year that the canal has been open for business.
“Our canals bring in more than $380 million a year in tourist dollars alone,” said Brian Stratton, director of the New York state Canal Corp., who arrived with other speakers aboard a historic tugboat. “The canals are still moving cargo, too, with over 100,000 tons ... projected to be shipped in the coming year.”
Sweden resident Donna Randazzo said the canal draws people into town.
“I see people come in on their boats, and they visit the shops and restaurants and just enjoy the small-town atmosphere,” Randazzo said.
Economic benefits aside, the ceremony also iterated the historical significance of the canal.
“This is what opened up the west,” said local historian Bill Andrews. “It’s what made this country a continental power.”
“I think it’s important to remember that these port towns owe the canal a debt,” said Randazzo. “Without it, they probably wouldn’t be here.”
The beauty of the day made it easy to see why the canal is so well-loved by Brockport’s residents. Throughout the ceremony, bikers and pedestrians criss-crossed on the far shore as ducks splashed in the water.
“Every time I come back to town after being away for a while, I’m reminded of just how beautiful they are, the town, the canal,” said Linda Ketchum of Brockport, who walks the towpath on a regular basis. “I always think to myself, ‘I think I’ll stay here a while longer.’ ”
“It’s different here than it is in New Jersey,” said Robin Czachor, who was in town visiting her friend Gail Behrens of Brockport. “There’s an infectious sense of community. When you walk down the street, people know you and they say hi.”
“Everybody is so hustle and bustle now,” added Behrens. “But with events like this, we get to slow down a little and just enjoy the community a little more.”
Perhaps Village Trustee Margay Blackman said it best: “I’ve come to realize what a treasure we have here. The canal has so much more to offer than just recreation; today, we’re recognizing the merging of the past and present.”