HUNTINGTON, Mass. (WWLP) – It was a perfect day to make the Hampshire County hill town of Huntington your destination for the 67th annual Westfield River Wild Water Race.
Participants came from all over the Northeast to test themselves and their crafts for the eight mile journey down the Westfield River in Huntington to Strathmore Park down river in Russell.
Sunday’s 90 minute journey attracted Lawrence Addareddi to make the trip from Westchester County, New York year after year. He told 22News, “The excitement, the river’s always new every time you go on it. The cheering, the boos, it’s all part of the fun.”
Some competitors welcome this challenge as life affirming. These young women, Kathine Paltz and Alli Stuetzel from Agawam, needed to test themselves by the rigors of this time honored wildwater race.
“We both came from a hard spot in our lives. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. I was almost not alive today, was in the hospital, so when we empower ourselves, we live life instead of being stuck in it, we want to live life,” Kathrine told 22News.
The Wild Water Race also served as a thrill for the many who lined the riverbank watching the boats go by. Amber Blake of Easthampton hardy ever misses cheering them on.
“It’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s tradition,” said Amber. “I’m a flatwater kayaker. I admire watching people run stuff I would never touch.”
So another western Massachusetts tradition, interrupted only by the pandemic, makes a triumphant return filling its competitors with a renewed zest for life.