Paddlers on the Schuylkill River. Photo: www.schuylkillwaters.org

Paddlers on the Schuylkill River. Photo: www.schuylkillwaters.org

If you’re thinking on paddling Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River this weekend, the upcoming visit from Pope Francis might put the kibosh on your plans. Last week, the Philadelphia Canoe Club was notified by the U. S. Secret Service that no boat traffic will be allowed on the Schuylkill River from Girard Avenue to the Art Museum between September 25 at 6 a.m. to September 28 at 2 a.m. during the Pope’s visit.

The PCC clubhouse is located on the bank of the confluence of the Wissahickon Creek and Schuylkill River.

“They’re fencing off a good section of the city for security reasons,” says Philadelphia Canoe Club commodore George Evans. “They’re shutting down almost all of the center of the city with a couple thousand miles of fencing.”
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Part of the boundary line, he adds, is the stretch of the Schuylkill from Girard Avenue to the Art Museum. But he says if you’re bent of boating, plenty of other areas are still available.

“The river is still open at a lot of other spots,” he says, highlighting the two private docks below the club and one above still accessible. “The main people affected will be the rowing team on Boathouse Row, but I don’t feel too sorry for them. They shut down the river five or six times a year for their regattas.”

In existence since 1905, the PCC is the third oldest paddling club in the United States, with its dedicated canoeists and kayakers offering trips, training, and events open to the public without membership. The club promotes paddling and paddlesports in the Philadelphia area, and trains new paddlers. It’s one of oldest and most distinguished paddling organizations in the United States. Headquartered in an 18th century mill at the confluence of the Wissahickon Creek and Schuylkill River in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia, it counts among its members more than 200 paddlers who take scores of trips every year throughout North America. It’s also home to a number of members who have raced on an international level, including several Olympians who competed in the 1936, 1952, 1956 and 1972 Games.

If the Pope’s visit affects paddling for a short while, you can be sure to read about it on various social networks, where posts already include such tidbits as “Water to wine….yehaw!” and “I thought the Pope was more of a last SUPper kind of guy?”

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