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Capering for Symmes

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CHESAPEAKE — Three-year-old Riley Stapleton sat in the bow of the canoe with the aplomb of a veteran seafarer, her multi-colored hair ribbons coordinating with her tiny orange life jacket.

She’s was about 18 months when she was first taken on a canoe ride so the drill that was part of Saturday’s Symmes Creek Canoe Caper was old hat to her. Riley and her mother Ashley Stapleton of Kitts Hill like to spend time paddling along Lake Vesuvius.

“We thought we try out the creek and help clean it up,” Stapleton said.

Despite rain clouds breaking out in the sky, about 20 canoes were launched from the Symmes Creek boat ramp with the express purpose of cleaning up the trash tossed along shoreline, an annual event organized by the Symmes Creek Restoration Committee.

Participating in the cleanup for the first time also was Joseph Haynes of Kitts Hill, who brought along his kayak to speed his way upstream grabbing the odd fast food sandwich wrapper or soft drink bottle to store in his green trash bag.

Canoeists stayed out about an hour heading either upstream or down to the mouth of the creek as it flows into the Ohio.

Then it was back on shore to judge who had the most trash and the craziest pulled out of the creek this year, eat a hot dog lunch and pull raffle tickets for prizes including a canoe donated by the National Wild Turkey Federation, a framed photograph by Carson Hunt and fishing poles.

This was the 18th year for the cleanup that brought out first-timers as well as veterans, including Boy Scout Troop 115 of South Point, who have a special place with the restoration committee.

“They are the steadiest,” Grayson Thornton of the Symmes Creek committee, said. “Art Ferguson was their Scoutmaster and that began our organization.”