Local residents conquer the Merrimack for a cause

·2 min read

Jun. 8—On the banks of the Merrimack in Lawrence dozens of brightly colored kayaks and canoes amassed in preparation for the annual Lou Marcel Canoe Race.

Event organizer Michelle Burchell said the race has been going on for more than 40 years and is always done to benefit a charity.

"For the past three or four years we have been doing the Northeast Veterans Outreach Center," said Burchell. "They help veterans find homes."

The race is around seven miles said Burchell, and finishes at the the Crescent Yacht Club in Haverhill.

"There this is a band, food and raffles," said Burchell.

While the event is technically a race Burchell said it is more about having a good time.

"People just end up enjoying the water and the beautiful Merrimack view," said Burchell.

This year the event was essential worker-themed, with paddlers wearing anything from construction worker outfits to police uniforms.

The race brought out people who had been going to the race for years, first timers and many in between.

Kathleen Gallagher of Haverhill was here for the second time.

"It's fun and for a good cause," Gallagher said.

Tony Thomas and his Mother in Law, Pam Pfifferling, said they had been going to the event for six years. Albeit during two of those years the race was canceled due to COVID-19, so they did it by themselves.

Pfifferling said the event was important because of the causes it raises money for.

"We like to do that type of thing and help contribute some money and help make things better for people in need," she said.

Dianne Duckworth, a Haverhill resident, said this is her first year at the race.

"Everybody I know has been doing it for years and years and I finally decided that I was going to participate this year." said Duckworth. "They say it is a great day, a great charity for the veterans and just a lot of fun."

While she is new to the race Duckworth said she has been kayaking for 25 years.

Danielle Collins on the other hand had never been in a kayak before and said it was very possible that she end up in the river, before the end of the race.

"I am not worried about it, but I am kind of anticipating it." said Collins," I have had some experience falling in rivers."