Have you ever felt as if you were treated like royalty?.
Back in the fall your board received an enquiry from Ray Callery, Chief Administrative Officer for Greater Napanee. It was an invitation to participate as a feature display at the 2015 Riverfront Festival. A number of us met with Ray in February and were very impressed with the professionalism and attention to detail in his presentation. We knew the event would be a success and we wanted to be part of it.
I had been looking forward to the Napanee weekend for a long time. June weather had been warn & sunny and there was the promise of a fun weekend with great friends. Friday morning we hitched up “Relic”, loaded the truck and before we hit the end of the driveway – RAIN! Yup…pretty much poured all the way to Napanee. It rained so much the festival organizers had to cancel the events planned for area school children that afternoon.
So…the royalty part. A number of us had arrived at the Hampton Inn, Napanee and met up with Ray to discuss alternate plans because of the weather. It was decided we would lock our boats in the secure compound across town, and meet up later at the VIP party scheduled for that evening. When Ray asked if we knew how to get to the compound we responded -“Well sort of.' The next thing we knew he was on his cell phone. We only overheard his side of the conversation but knew he was arranging for an escort to ensure we didn’t get lost. He asked to have the escort vehicle sent over right away. The one with lots of red lights he said! This is where the Royalty began. When the vehicle arrived we learned that Ray had called Greater Napanee fire chief Terry Gervais and he was there within minutes with his fire department car. The one with the red flashing lights. To escort us across town…with lights flashing…so we would find the works department yard where the boats were being stored.
Did I mention VIP reception? The Royalty part continues. On Friday night the Festival Committee held a reception at the Riverfront Restaurant to thank the volunteers and sponsors. Complimentary drinks and hors d’oeuvres were served and all in attendance had a great time. At one point during the evening Gord Schermerhorn, the Mayor of Greater Napanee came by our table to introduce himself, thank us for participating and to present each of us with a gift bag.
Saturday dawned cool but sunny and we were launched by 9:30. After parading up river to the wharf, with the master of ceremonies introducing us and our boats, we tied up for the morning. As the day warmed up the crowds grew larger. I am always amazed at how much attention a few classic boats can attract. What a great way to spend a Saturday. There were several local vendors set up in the park beside the wharf and there were activities planned for the entire day.
At 2:00 it was time for our run down the river. As we left the dock we were filmed by a news reporter from Kingston doing a piece on the event. It was a leisurely run down the meandering Napanee River to Mohawk Bay at Deseronto. By then the wind had come up and with it the waves. After a short time on the Bay we turned around and returned to the festival. Things soon wound down for the day and we hauled out returning the boats to the storage area. After a pleasant dinner at a downtown restaurant, it was an early night for most of us.
On Sunday morning, the final day of the festival, several of us returned to the Park and lined up our trailered boats as a display in the parking lot. After a VIP pancake breakfast we hitched up at noon for the return home. It was interesting to hear comments throughout the weekend from the other club members in attendance. The consensus seemed to be that of all the places we have visited and taken our boats over the years, Napanee was the best run event, had the friendliest people and had an organizing committee that made us truly feel welcome. It was such a pleasure to have been part of the 2015 Greater Napanee Riverfront Festival.
More photos below videos and online.