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RiverQuarium preps for canoe trips

ALBANY, Ga. -- Those looking to get an up-close-and-personal look at the Flint River this summer are in luck.

Area residents will have an opportunity to learn more about the river and support the Flint RiverQuarium by spending some time on the water in the coming weeks through a few upcoming canoe trips.

"We do it because it is our mission to educate people about the river," said Wendy Bellacomo, marketing manager for the RiverQuarium. "There is no better way to learn about the Flint."

Steve Rainey, Dougherty County's Georgia Youth Science Technology Center coordinator, will serve as the guide for the canoe trips, which will be offered in two sets.

One of the sets will be the Saturday "Paddle the Flint," which is planned to take place from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. on May 28, June 11, July 9, Aug. 6, Sept. 3 and Oct. 1.

"Paddle the Flint" will start at the Radium/Marine Corps ditch landing south of Albany and conclude at the North Mitchell Park landing. Participants will meet at the RiverQuarium and are expected to bring a bag lunch. There is no alcohol allowed, and the minimum age to participate is 10.

The fee is $25 per canoe. Paddles and flotation devices will be provided.

There will also be Thursday "Twilight Paddle" sessions offered on May 26, June 9, June 30, July 14, July 28 and Aug. 4 starting at 6:30 p.m.

Participants will meet at the RiverQuarium. The trips are set to last approximately 45 minutes with the route taking participants from the Georgia Power dam to downtown Albany. The ride will be followed by hors d'oeuvres at the RiverQuarium.

The minimum age to participate for this canoe trip is 21. The fee is $35 per canoe. Paddles and flotation devices will be provided.

Both sets are designed to appeal to different audiences, Bellacomo said.

"If you want an easy ride in the river, then the Twilight Paddle is good for that," she said. "If you want to explore (the river) more in-depth, then Saturday is a good day to go."

This will be the second year that Rainey has participated as a volunteer guide. Over the years, the RiverQuarium has hosted similar events, usually with success.

"We did one series last year, and we sold out -- so we did a second one," Bellacomo said. "They have turned out to be popular."

Advance registration is required, and spots may fill up fast -- and not just because the rides themselves are popular.

"Steve prefers to keep the groups small so he can keep up with everybody," Bellacomo said.

To make a reservation, call (229) 639-2650, go online to www.flintriverquarium.com. or visit the RiverQuarium at 101 Pine Ave. Reservations will be taken until the rides are full.

RiverQuarium officials also announced the aquarium is bringing back its popular Third Thursdays program. In May, June and July, visitors can come to the facility and see a movie in the Imagination Theater for $5 on the third Thursday of each month from 5 p.m.-8 p.m.

Third Thursdays will kick off May 19 and continue on June 16 and July 21.