SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Temperatures hit below freezing Saturday, but that didn’t stop extreme sports fans in Lackawanna County. They pushed off and paddled down the Lackawanna River as part of this year’s Shiverfest.
“I was sick in bed all week and my wife was like ‘Are you sure this is in your best interest?’ Probably not but we did it. You only live once,” Eugene McDonough of Scranton said.
You might have heard of Riverfest, but have you heard of Shiverfest? Saturday marked the sixth year of the event.
“We’re ready to brave the winter storm and enjoy a little bit of the ice-cold Lackawanna River,” Bernie McGurl, executive director of the Lackawanna River Conservation Association, said.
The paddlers were paddling three miles downriver. The finish line was at Sweeny’s Beach. People could race or paddle at their own leisure. It took the group about 30 minutes to reach the end of the course. McDonough says the experience was peaceful and this sort of event helps keep boredom at bay during the winter months.
“If I sit around and do nothing all winter, I will be the size of the house. For me, I like to get out. I don’t like to sit at home,” McDonough said.
One of the main concerns for paddlers is hypothermia. Organizers prepared as much as they could. The Scranton Fire Department Rescue 1, ambulances, and spotters along the river were posted to keep an eye out for any issues.
“It’s a safe as possible event as we could have under the conditions we have,” McGurl said.
Shiverfest is a fundraiser for the Lackawanna River Conservation Association (LRCA). The proceeds go towards promoting the river as a resource.
“Trying to continue our cleaning up, protecting for the future, educating citizens in the Lackawanna River Valley,” LRCA board member Phil McCarthy said.
“30 years ago, 40 years ago, we could not go on this river. Today, we’re out here on a cold, cold day and wind on the river. There’s no garbage laying around. It’s nice and clean,” McDonough said.
After they finished this year’s Shiverfest course, paddlers could warm up at the Thaw Party at Backyard Ale House. To contact the association to learn about next year’s event, click here.