River Paddle Sunday Will Honor Champion of Nature

Experienced canoeists and kayakers are welcome to join Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle in the river trek from Willow Road to Linne Woods on Dempster.


If you've got a canoe or kayak and know how to use it (well), you can join Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, other officials and lots of other paddlers in a Sunday paddle in memory of Ralph Frese. Frese, of Niles, was a nature enthusiast who popularized Chicago-area paddling starting in th 1950s.

Here are the details, from the Cook County Forest Preserve District.


WHO:              Forest Preserve District of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and General Superintendent Arnold Randall, along with Marc Miller, Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, representatives from the Illinois Paddling Council and hundreds of dedicated canoeists and kayakers,

WHAT:           Will celebrate the legacy of canoe legend Ralph Frese with a paddle trip down the North Branch of the Chicago River.

WHEN:           Sunday, April 14, 2013 

                        Boats launch at 10am. 

                        A speaking program to remember the life of event founder Ralph Frese will take place at 9:55am. The program will include a proclamation from the Governor read by IDNR Director Marc Miller. 

WHERE:         The trip begins below the Skokie Lagoons at Willow Road, east of the Edens at Forestway Drive.  Access to the boat launch is just below the Willow Road Dam. The trip ends at the Linne Woods Canoe Access a few hundred yards downstream from the horse bridge in Linne Woods. Linne Woods is located on Dempster Street at Ferris Ave., east of Lehigh Ave.

OTHER:         This event is open to the public. Participants must bring their own boats and personal floatation devices and dress in clothing that retains warmth if wet. All participants will be checked for proper clothing and equipment before launching.

Paddling any river in cold weather is inherently dangerous. Due to recent rains and high water levels, the river is predicted to be especially fast. This event is recommended for experienced paddlers only.

The Ralph Frese Memorial Paddle is presented by the Forest Preserve District in conjunction with the Illinois Paddling Association and supported by Prairie State Canoeists.

The event was rescheduled from New Year’s Day 2013 due to extreme cold. It has been an annual New Year’s Day tradition since its founding 28 years ago by Ralph Frese. Mr. Frese passed away on December 10, 2012 at the age of 86.


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