Update: River walk postponed
UPDATE: THE ANNUAL RIVER WALK HAS BEEN POSTPONED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE DUE TO THE RIVER’S RISING.
Shepherdstown residents looking to escape the summer heat will have the opportunity to wade knee deep in the waters of the Potomac River as the town holds its 8th annual river walk.
On Sunday, Sept. 11, as many as 70 people will make their way across the Potomac River on foot. After the walk there will be a town picnic at the river landing.
The river walk was originally started by former Shepherdstown mayor, Peter Wilson in 2003. In previous years there has been a C&O Canal interpreter as well as Civil War lessons; however, this year the event is almost exclusively about the walk and picnic, according to one of the event’s organizers, Jay Hurley.
The river walk was born out of a desire to teach town residents the importance of the Potomac River and C&O Canal’s history in Shepherdstown. On the way down River Road, Hurley will give a brief history of landmarks as well as tell the story of the river’s importance in the Civil War.
Walkers will meet at McMurran Hall on South King Street at noon. Hurley, who is also proprietor of O’Hurley’s General Store, asked that everyone who plans to walk or join the festivities afterwards bring food for the picnic.
At 1 p.m., walkers will make their way to the river landing. Hurley estimates that it will take approximately one hour to get everyone across the river. According to Hurley, some people make it across the river quickly while others need a bit more time. Event organizers focus primarily on getting everybody across safely.
“The worst thing that could happen would have someone slipping and falling into the river. So far, though, nobody has ever been hurt,” Hurley said.
Across the river, on the Maryland side, will be another event organizer, Dave Springer. Springer will guide walkers across with a rope. Once they make it to the other side, Springer said the walkers will hike for about a mile or two before making it back for the picnic.
Also guiding walkers across the river will be a flotilla of boats which will carry people back over the river to the picnic. According to Hurley, in years past the boats that have been used have been incredibly diverse. From simple row boats to 32-foot schooners, the boats prove to be an interesting part of the event all on their own.
Hurley said that individuals do not have to be a walker to participate in the festivities. Those who simply wish to join in for the picnic can meet up at the river landing at the end of Princess Street at approximately 3 p.m. The picnic is expected to run through 4:30.
Hurley is convinced that almost anybody can make the trip across the river.
“We’ve had 80-year-old ladies cross before,” Hurley said.
He does, however, recommend that walkers wear waterproof shoes and bring a walking stick to help hold themselves up. Hurley also said that some people probably would want to bring a change of clothes if they do not want to be wet for the picnic.
Hurley hopes to bring in some new people to walk this year. By his rough estimate, he said about 70 percent are repeat walkers. He also stressed that the river walk was something that everyone from Shepherdstown should enjoy.
“There is no sponsor; this is an informal community event,” Hurley said.