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Hot news: Yuma activity doesn't end in summer
Caballeros' regatta is June 29
Think there's nothing to do in Yuma in the summertime?
If so, clearly, you haven't seen the city of Yuma's Parks and Recreation Department spring and summer activities guide, with 40 pages full of fun for Yuman beings of all ages – and even the family dog.
“Of course, we have classes and camps for kids, all kinds of aquatic programs and swimming lessons for all ages, plus monthly and season pool passes,” said Debbie Wendt, the city's recreation superintendent. “But there's lots visitors can enjoy, too.”
They might start — as Yuma itself did — at the Colorado River, Wendt suggested.
The beach at Gateway Park is free and open to the public from sunrise to 11 p.m. daily, though there are no lifeguards on duty. At West Wetlands Park, the Stewart Vincent Wolfe “castle playground” — built by 8,000 volunteers in just 10 days and one of the largest of its kind in the country — is lit for play after dark until 11 p.m.
Also at West Wetlands, you can enjoy a movie under the stars on June 15, and thanks to sponsorship by Bill Alexander Ford/Flightline Mazda Mitsubishi, this al fresco screening of “Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted” is free to all. Bring your own blankets or lawn chairs.
Back at Gateway, Parks & Rec is offering kayak rentals by the hour for the first time ever. The one- and two-person boats will be available on a first-come, first-served basis at a cost of just $5 per person per hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. the fourth Saturday of the month through August (June 22, July 27 and Aug. 24). The minimum age is 16 (with parental permission), and you must sign a liability waiver and have ID.
“It's a good way to put your toe in the water —literally — for not a lot of money,” Wendt said. “We're excited ... this is something we could do year-round if the demand is there.”
For those who'd rather not launch out on their own, Wendt added that there are group kayak trips planned for late night (July 13) and sunrise (Aug. 10). In addition, Parks & Rec can organize guided tours for groups of 10 to 60 people any time of year. Just call at least three weeks in advance (transportation included, lunch or dinner optional).
And the summer fun doesn't stop at the river, Wendt said, with hundreds of softball players from across Arizona and California flocking to Yuma for tournaments.
“People think that no one comes to Yuma in the summer, but it's just not true,” Wendt said. “California comes to us for tournaments because our fields are really great, we're known for being well-organized, and we beat the heat by doing them at night.”
Seeing is believing and it's free to watch, so take an afternoon siesta and check out the Paul Riley Late Night Men's 12” Softball Tournament July 27-28 or the Late Night Donnie Crump Two-Person OTL Softball Tournament Aug. 10, both beginning at 7 p.m. and continuing into the wee hours.
And if you thought we were kidding about Fido, think again. You and your four-legged friend can try a Tails and Trails hike along the river June 8 or plunge into a Woof Splash Expo pool party Aug. 31.
To let your fingers do the walking through the summer activities guide, go to the Parks & Rec page on the city website (http://www.yumaaz.gov/1357.htm) or to this direct link: http://www.yumaaz.gov/Documents/COY_ActivitiesGuide.pdf.
Or pick the phone and call the main line to Parks & Rec at 373-5243.
You've got nothing to lose but your summertime blues!
Want to enjoy a relaxed summer float down the Colorado River with several hundred of your closest friends? Plunge in as the Caballeros de Yuma launch their annual Territorial River Regatta at 8 a.m. June 29.
It’s the modern incarnation of a Yuma tradition that flourished through the 1960s and ’70s but went underwater until the Caballeros revived it in 2011. Beginning at the confluence of the Gila and Colorado rivers, the party flows through the historic Yuma Crossing to West Wetlands Park.
"The point of restarting this event was just for everyone to get out and enjoy the river and to participate in a casual, fun event," said Caballeros’ regatta chairman Page Misenhimer. "We want it to be light-hearted, a great way to try tubing with lots of company if you’ve never done it before, or meet up with old and new friends if you do it all the time."
The regatta welcomes pretty much whatever floats, from individual tubes to decorated floats up to 8-by-8 feet in size. In a new twist this year, the Caballeros are encouraging businesses or organizations to build floats and to organize their own picnics at Gateway Park, where floats will beach for judging under the Ocean-to-Ocean Bridge at 11 a.m.
Floaters then continue on to the West Wetlands boat ramp downriver to disembark. Depending on river flows and wind, the whole trip usually takes about three hours, but all services will end at 2 p.m.
All participants must register individually ($5 cost), sign a release and wear a numbered wristband. You can register in advance, or beginning at 6:30 a.m. the day of the event at West Wetlands Park or the launch site. There is no parking at the launch; drivers are urged to drop rafts and floaters, and then proceed to West Wetlands where they can catch a shuttle back to the launch site if they’re also floating.
For those who don’t have their own tubes, Yuma River Tubing can supply both necessary gear and transportation to the launch site from West Wetlands.
For details and rules, plus an entry form and maps, go to http://caballeros.org/river_regatta.htm.
Ann Walker is a writer for the Yuma Visitors Bureau. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 376-0100.