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Canoe caper sails from Symmes Creek

CHESAPEAKE - The sun was shining overhead Saturday morning on the banks of Symmes Creek as canoes slipped into the water.

Many set out on the Arthur S. Ferguson Canoe Trail for The Symmes Creek Restoration Committee's annual Canoe Caper, in its eighth year for the caper.

Symmes Creek Restoration Chairman Grayson Thornton said that their interest is in promoting the area for the educational and recreational benefits it can bring to the area.

"Our ongoing interest is in keeping the creek clean and emphasizing it's environmental and recreational benefits," he said.

There were two legs to the caper. For the first hour, participants cleaned up the creek area and then they embarked on a 5-mile ride down the Ohio River for a riverside lunch at the Burlington Park where they were served by ladies of the Windsor Grange.

Before the canoes hit the water, participants enjoyed a few songs by country singer Howie Damron who, Thornton said, offered to clean the bank off, "when no one else would."

"I spent a lot of time canoeing on this creek as a child," Damron said to the audience as he prepared to sing.

After Damron's performance, there was a raffle where the committee gave away prizes such as a $600 canoe donated by the National Wild Turkey Federation, a photograph by professional photographer Carson Hunt and various other items.

Participants then headed for the water.

"I think it's good for the next generation of people - if we don't do something now, there'll be nothing left," said Justin Hayes, 16, of Proctorville.

This was Hayes' second year at the caper, where he was canoeing with his brother Kyle, 15, and his father Tim.

Tim Hayes said the caper was a nice event and ,although they were busy, this was something he and his sons enjoyed making time to do each year.

"We enjoy this stuff," he said. "These guys are very dedicated, a tremendous bunch of people."

Thornton said that they had some important partners who made the caper possible including the Wayne National Forest, county commissioners and the Lawrence-Scioto County Solid Waste Management District.

"Without partners, we don't get anything done," Thornton said.