Union Leader | John Koziol | March 3, 2019
Matt Melcher, wearing bib No. 29, and Heidi Chaney. No. 5, shoot down the race course Saturday in head-to-head competition at the third annual Boat Bash – Snow Crash. Held at the Veterans Memorial Recreation Area, the event capped the Franklin Outing Club’s 57th Winter Carnival and is a fundraiser both for the outing club and Mill City Park at Franklin Falls, a group formed in 2017 to promote the construction of a whitewater park on the Winnipesaukee River. - John Koziol/Union Leader Correspondent
FRANKLIN — In an exciting wrap-up to the weeks-long 2019 Winter Carnival, dozens of competitors on Saturday piloted their kayaks down the slope of the Veterans Memorial Recreation Area during the third annual Boat Bash–Snow Crash.
Sponsored by the Franklin Outing Club, the 57th Winter Carnival began Jan. 26 with a casserole supper, bonfire and sledding at the VMRA.
Since then, the carnival has also included a pancake breakfast, cardboard sled races, ski and snowboard races, ending for the first time with a downhill kayak contest that was held under ideal conditions.
Not too cold, nor too wet and icy, as in past years, the single channel course drew racers of all ages, among them Austin Parent of Belmont.
A second-grader at Belmont Elementary School, Austin used the money he received for his eighth birthday on Feb. 8 to enter the Boat Bash–Snow Crash, which organizers believe is the only event of its kind in New England.
The Boat Bash serves as a fundraiser for both the outing club and Mill City Park at Franklin Falls, a group formed in 2017 to promote the construction of a whitewater park on the Winnipesaukee River.
On Saturday, the racers vied for best time; fastest speed; and head-to-head, the latter of which saw Austin sometimes challenged by much older opponents.
“(Josh Moreau) pushed me a little and it helped me,” Austin said after his first run, “because he went right up beside me and couldn’t get by.”
Given the bright sunshine, mild temperatures and ample amounts of snow, there was much to be happy about on Saturday at the VMRA, whose parking lot was filled by the time the racing began at mid-morning.
Among those who were smiling was Marty Parichand, the executive director of Mill City Park and also a downhill kayak racer, who has said that Franklin is poised to become a “whitewater Mecca” because it has the closest, most reliable rapids to Boston.
Mill City Park would be the first whitewater park in New England.
Franklin Mayor Tony Giunta, in the Winter Carnival program, wrote that the City Council recently voted — unanimously — to adopt a mission statement that recognizes “that to improve our great City, we must take a more active role in supporting and promoting all the wonderful recreational opportunities the City of Franklin has to offer.”