Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Cross-border ‘tug’ axed

The rising waters of the upper Rainy River has caused yet another event to be washed out.
The annual cross-border “Pulling for Peace” tug-of-war between Fort Frances and International Falls, originally scheduled for next Wednesday (July 2), has been yanked due to the safety concerns presented by the high river levels and strong current.

“I don’t think we’re going to be able to have it go,” Fort Frances Chief Frank Sheppard replied to a query from Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft at Monday night’s council meeting.
Chief Sheppard noted he checked out the current Sunday and they drifted more than 100 feet in less than a minute.
“It’s now become a three-party tug-of-war, and I think the one that’s going to be winning is the one going downstream,” he added.
Taking this advice into consideration, Couns. Wiedenhoeft and Andy Hallikas decided to call their Falls’ counterparts and regrettably cancel the event.
“If the water rises any higher than it is now, it’s going to create an unsafe situation for the pullers,” Coun. Wiedenhoeft stressed.
“And if they open the [dam] gates and the current increases even more than it is right now, it’s going to create another dangerous situation because we can’t keep the rope out of the water.
“The current will be just too strong,” he noted. “So those are the two things that could happen.”
Coun. Wiedenhoeft is disappointed by the cancellation since they had the Lake Superior Scottish Regiment coming to pull this year against the U.S. National Guard—200 years after the cessation of the War of 1812.
“What a great way to celebrate that occasion,” he remarked.
“But what can you do when Mother Nature steps in?”
The tug-of-war also was cancelled in 2012—just minutes before it was set to begin—when a strong thunderstorm storm blew in.
No winner was declared that year, but last year it was the U.S. team that won the coveted trophy.
Coun. Wiedenhoeft noted the U.S. side has planned a celebration for July 2 at Pat Roche Landing and they still will go ahead with their festivities.
“They are going to invite the Canadians over to join in the celebration,” he said, adding there will be a community picnic, sloughgrass band, cotton candy, FHS cheerleaders, and vendors all beginning at 4 p.m.
There will be a “Dancin’ with Darcie” special performance at 4:30 p.m., followed at 4:45 p.m. by a kiddie pull across land, with all kids ages five-13 welcome.
“There will be a presentation of the trophy to the river,” Coun. Wiedenhoeft added, noting both mayors also will speak.
“We’re just going to try to make it into a joint community celebration,” he reasoned, urging all Canadians to join in the festivities.
Meanwhile, as previously reported, the Boundary Waters Dragon Boat Festival also had to be postponed due to the swift current and debris in the water, which causes concern for participants’ safety.
Initially scheduled for July 1, that event has been rescheduled for Aug. 9 in hopes the water levels will have resided by then and any debris washed through.
However, the Canada Day parade in Fort Frances, which was set to conclude at the Sorting Gap Marina in conjunction with the Dragon Boat Festival, will go on as planned.
“The parade is going ahead,” stressed Shannon Darby of the Rainy River Future Development Corp., who is helping to organize the annual event.
“We’re going to monitor the situation and if a route change needs to be made, we’ll wait until the town lets us know,” she added, indicating there’s now about a dozen floats registered to take part.
Anyone interested in participating can contact David Loney at 274-9621.
As well, the 4-on-4 beach volleyball tournament, which will take place at the Point beginning at 7:30 a.m., remains a go for Canada Day.
To sign up, contact Amy Wilson-Hands at 270-0165.
Meanwhile, the Riverside Foundation for Health Care’s annual Canada Day Cash Lottery draw will take place at the Sorting Gap Marina at 1 p.m.
The bathtub races also are still set to go—taking off from the Point Park at 5 p.m.
But the flooding situation has caused the firework display to be postponed, with plans to now coincide it with the rescheduled Dragon Boat Festival on Aug. 9.
Boston Pizza, however, plans to fill in some of the cancellations with activities there.
“We’re going to turn it into an all-day party,” enthused owner Dale Fortes.
There will be face-painting, kids’ movies, and a sidewalk colouring contest from 2-5 p.m.
Then the party will continue into the evening for the adults with patio cheering, special Canada BP exclusive drinks, and patriotic Canadian prizes.

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