A long standing tradition for Long Lakers is the Long Lake Regatta, recently renamed the Paddling Olympics, a day filled with fun competition that is fit for the whole family. It isn’t prizes that has families coming back, but the bragging rights and tradition of just being able to say they crossed the finish line.
According to Alexandra Roalsvig, Director of Long Lake Parks, Recreation and Tourism, the Long Lake Regatta started some 50 years ago when the area was filled with more summer camps and it morphed into the current event known as the Paddling Olympics.
“The name was changed to open the event to all,” says Roalsvig, “Participants use kayaks, canoes and standup paddle boards in all sorts of fun, crazy races. Last summer we had a family that had never been on a kayak before and they had a blast. Boats, lifejackets and lifeguards are there. ”
Though the name of the event changed in recent years, people still refer to the Paddling Olympics as “the regatta.” According to Kathy Duffendack of the Long Lake Association, the Friday July 24 event has always been free. Completely organized and run by volunteers, “the regatta” hosts such fan favorites as backwards paddling a canoe, no paddle canoe race and parent/child canoe relay race.
“This has always been a fun activity for anyone living or visiting here,” says Duffendack. “It’s not a very long race. The buoys are set near the town beach for a short and long course. This year we are running two different age groups, 12 and under and teen. Raquette River Outfitters, Camp Hilary and individuals loan the boats. We also have some life jackets. Participants do get ribbons, but the point of the event is to have fun.”
Spectators and participants can purchase a barbecue lunch from the Lion’s Club while watching people hand paddle canoes around the markers. Rain or shine, registration for the Paddling Olympics is 10:30 am with races starting at 11 am.
“People can also come the next day [Saturday, July 25] and see The Big Easy Playboys, a Louisana Roots Cajun band, play at the town beach,” says Roalsvig, “We’ve brought New Orleans to Long Lake. We’ll be passing out masks and beads. It will be a great weekend on and off the water. There won’t be food the night of the concert, but people can bring a picnic or order a pizza from the [Adirondack] hotel.”
Photo of Long Lake Paddling Olympics provided.